Sam Beecroft, 21, from Morpeth, was riding his motorbike along the B6524, Morpeth, on August 27, 2017, when a bird hit the right-hand side of his helmet, causing him to crash into a fence.
Sam said: “I think I got knocked out. I remember waking up and there was a young girl who worked for Easy Jet. She said, ‘are you all right?’ and I said ‘no a bird’s hit my face and I cannot feel my legs’.”
Both the North East Ambulance Service and the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) paramedic and doctor team attended the scene and treated him.
He was taken to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle by a land ambulance accompanied by the GNAAS doctor where it was revealed he had a T3 spinal cord injury.
Sam said: “I was about 8mm from breaking my neck, so in that respect I’m quite lucky that I didn’t, and I’ve still got use of my hands and my arms.”
He spent more than two weeks in the RVI before being transferred to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough for nearly three months of rehab and physiotherapy.
He said: “The doctor who came from the air ambulance is probably the one who actually saved my life. In particular I think he knew what was wrong and what could be helped to make sure the injury didn’t get any worse.”
Following Sam's crash, a group of fund-raisers, known as the Toon to Town Challenge Group , including his dad Ian, decided to organise a bike ride to raise money for both GNAAS and Sam.
In June, 12 people cycled 457 miles from Exeter to Morpeth over five days. The group then held a black-tie dinner,which was attended by Will Clark, who was also treated by GNAAS after
The incident left Will paralysed from the neck down. He has since become a volunteer for GNAAS and delivers presentations about the charity to the local community.
Giles Evans, the founder of Toon to Town, said: “It was a superb night. You couldn’t hear a pin drop when Will spoke, and as a result it was a very successful evening.”
Sam has managed to get back on a bike since his crash and even took part in the Inter-Spinal Unit Games at Stoke Mandeville this year.
He recently visited the GNAAS base in Langwathby, Cumbria, along with the Toon to Town group, to present a cheque for £3,685.77 to the charity.
GNAAS is funded entirely by donations. Last year, it needed to raise £5.1million to survive. To find out how you can help, visit www.gnaas.com or call 01325 487263.