‘The air ambulance is fantastic’

James Fernback's x-ray of his spine and pelvis. He sustained a damaged spine and broken pelvis in the crash.
James Fernback's x-ray of his spine and pelvis. He sustained a damaged spine and broken pelvis in the crash.

A motorcyclist who was seriously injured after crashing into a wall in Northumberland is preparing for a cycling challenge in aid of the charity that airlifted him.

James Fernback, 35, from Alnwick, was riding along the B6341 with his friends when he crashed into a wall, sustaining multiple serious injuries.

James, Robin and Jill Fernback.

James, Robin and Jill Fernback.

The Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) was called to the scene.

The father-of-one said: “We’d been away at Fort William and we were heading back home through a rural area in Northumberland when I lost control of the bike.

“I remember waking up with the bike on top of me and then speaking to the GNAAS crew intermittently.”

The GNAAS paramedic and doctor team assessed and treated Mr Fernback before airlifting him to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle in the aftermath of the incident, on June 29, 2015.

Mr Fernback sustained a broken collarbone, damaged spine, a broken pelvis, a fractured vertebra, bruised lungs and soft tissue damage in his leg.

He was in hospital for almost a month and spent six months recovering from his injuries before returning to work as a self-employed electrician.

Mr Fernback still feels pain in his lower back and other parts of the body as well as bad cramps, but that hasn’t stopped him signing up to the Hamsterley Beast to raise money for GNAAS.

He said: “My friends and I were keen on doing something for GNAAS and we saw the Hamsterley Beast as a good event to do.

“The GNAAS is a fantastic service and played a big part in getting to me so quickly on scene and taking me to hospital in the shortest time possible so I could get the treatment I needed.

“I think a lot of people in Northumberland appreciate GNAAS because we live in a rural type of area.

Without this service, things could have been a lot worse for myself and other people who have had to use it.”

The Hamsterley Beast takes place in May. To sign up, or to volunteer as a marshall at the event, visit bit.ly/GNAASbeast

Since 2015, mountain bikers from across England and beyond have descended on an otherwise peaceful corner of County Durham to take part in the Hamsterley Beast.

Each year since then, the event has grown in size. The 2017 Beast sold out twice, even after more places were released to satisfy the incredible demand. More than 480 riders took part last year alone.

All of the money raised through the event supports the GNAAS. In just three years, riders in the Hamsterley Beast have helped raise nearly £60,000 for the charity.

The Beast is a mountain-biking weekender and this year’s challenging ride comes in three options: The 20-mile Half Beast, the 40-mile Full Beast; or the 66.6-mile Super Beast.