Teenager breaks her fund raising target

Natasha Sedgwick with Yorkshire Air Ambulance paramedic Graham Pemberton on a visit to the charity's base at Nostell, near Wakefield.

Natasha Sedgwick with Yorkshire Air Ambulance paramedic Graham Pemberton on a visit to the charity's base at Nostell, near Wakefield.

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A teenager who broke her back in a head-on crash has raised more than £2,000 in a swimming challenge to say thank you to the air ambulance crew that rescued her.

Natasha Sedgwick, of Pickhill near Ripon, was driving to Richmond Sixth Form College on a summer morning last year when her car was involved with a head-on collision with a van.

“The car was pushed up onto a high verge and then bounced back so I was jolted around a lot,” said Natasha. “I knew it was bad because I was in a lot of pain.

“I saw smoke coming from the front of the car and wanted to get out but I couldn’t and had to be cut out by firemen – I just remember being surrounded by lots of firemen.”

Natasha, 18, was flown by Yorkshire Air Ambulance to the James Cook Memorial Hospital, Middlesbrough, where she was found to have broken her back and four ribs.

“The crew were just fabulous, kept me smiling and I couldn’t believe how quick the flight was,” she added. “My mum and sister drove to the hospital and said how strange it was to see the air ambulance fly past knowing I was in it.

“I got the chance to go to the air ambulance base and meet the crew to say thank you and they thought I would be arriving in a wheelchair, which made me realise how fortunate I’ve been.”

As reported in the Gazette in July, to say thank you to the helicopter heroes, Natasha swam 100 lengths of Bedale Swimming Pool and hoped her efforts would attract £2,000 of sponsorship –a target she has now smashed.

Natasha, who used to be a keen basketball player, went through months of treatment and physiotherapy and had to wear a backboard everyday for six months.

But showing great determination, she returned to college to complete her A-levels and has just started work as a receptionist with an architectural practice.

This has forced Natasha to get behind the wheel of a car again. “That has been the hardest thing, it was like learning to drive all over again,” she added.

“It’s been a really tough year and I was quite down at times but my mum and family have been great and I’ve learnt to be positive and the accident has really changed my attitude to life.”

The Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA) has carried more than 5,800 people in its 14-year history and has to raise £9,990 every day – that’s £3.6m a year – to keep the life-saving service going. It receives no direct Government funding but is able to second paramedics from the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust.