Community rallies round to celebrate boy’s lucky escape

Date: Monday 10th April 2017
Rebecca Bird and her son Harry try out the pilot’s seat in the air ambulance.
Rebecca Bird and her son Harry try out the pilot’s seat in the air ambulance.

THE Appleby community showed its solidarity by pulling together to raise £1,690 for the Great North Air Ambulance Service after a helicopter and its crew helped a toddler in the town.

The Langwathby-based air ambulance was called out to help 18-month-old Harry Bird after a fall at his home in Orchard Place, Appleby, in February.

Harry, who was airlifted to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary in just 18 minutes, has miraculously escaped without injury.

Harry, his parents, Rebecca and Craig Bird, four-year-old sister Amelia, and family friend Gemma Reid presented a cheque for £1,690.07 to the air ambulance crew as thanks for its help.

The fund-raising drive was organised by Gemma, aged 27, and 31-year-old Matthew Hogg, who both live at Scattergate Green, Appleby. An event was held in the town’s Hare and Hounds pub with the support of landlady Sharon Reid, who is Gemma’s mother.

Businesses throughout the town threw their support behind a raffle, donating a huge array of prizes. There were also donations from people throughout the community.

Gemma said she was amazed when people’s support for the cause resulted in 5,000 tickets being sold for the raffle alone. Special prizes which were donated included tickets for a Newcastle v. Leeds football match and a tour of the British Gypsum mines at Kirkby Thore, all of which were auctioned on the night. The fund-raising evening also included a bingo session and a darts competition, all drawing in the pounds for the air ambulance. Harry’s father, 36-year-old Craig, who works for Cumbria County Council, had his chest waxed to raise more cash.

“All the money we raised was just in one night and with everything being donated every single penny went to the air ambulance, it’s amazing. I think people in Appleby really got behind it because being a rural area people have so much respect for the air ambulance,” said Gemma.

“We thought it would be good to raise enough money to in effect pay for Harry’s flight, so we set our target at £1,000. Once everyone heard about it all the local businesses got involved, contributing prizes, and we are really proud of how much people in Appleby have got involved.”

Rebecca, aged 35, who works at Shining Stars Nursery, Appleby, said of her friend’s fund-raising effort: “We’ve been friends for a long time and I’m extremely grateful and am so proud of her. I’m pleased we have been able to give something back to the air ambulance.”

Claire Herworth, media officer for the Great North Air Ambulance Service, said: “It’s amazing and we want to thank them so much. It’s down to people like Harry’s family and friends and the Appleby community that the air ambulance keeps going.”