A woman is encouraging others to volunteer for the air ambulance service which helped save her right leg by getting her to hospital so quickly.
Saying thank you is the theme of Volunteers’ Week (June 1-7) when charities and organisations celebrate the unpaid work done by millions of volunteers across the UK.
But some individuals give up their free time to volunteer as their own thank you for what has been done for them.
One such person is Letitia Hayward from Loddington near Kettering who was airlifted by Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance when she needed urgent medical treatment after being seriously injured in a road traffic collision.
She says: “I owe my right leg, if not my life to the helicopter flying me to hospital so quickly.”
It was a beautiful October morning in 2014 when Letitia decided to make the most of the weather by going for a bike ride.
On the way back, just a few hundred yards from her home, she was involved in a side-to-side collision with an oncoming bus that was overtaking parked cars.
She sustained multiple injuries to her right leg including a severed artery, dislocated knee, ligament damage, and a deep wound above her ankle.
She was very badly bruised and also suffered a broken finger on her right hand.
The local air ambulance flew Letitia to University Hospital Coventry & Warwickshire - although she has no recollection of it.
She said: “I am eternally grateful that I was flown to the specialist treatment I needed as, I believe, the outcome of my accident could have been very different if I had not been.
"All the doctors I spoke to told me that my injuries were very serious and for a time they were concerned I might lose my leg."
Letitia was initially in hospital for 18 days and underwent a vein graft to repair the severed artery behind her knee, plastic surgery on her ankle and had a metalwork frame put around her knee.
Her recovery was long and slow, including over three months wearing a leg brace and a total of seven operations including surgery on her hand twice, keyhole surgery in her knee and ligament reconstruction.
When she was recovering in hospital one of Letitia’s motivations to get better was to raise enough money to cover the cost of her rescue.
A couple of years later, she hosted a coffee morning and through the generosity of local businesses, friends and family she achieved that goal.
She said: “My own work background had been in fundraising and I was on a career break when my accident happened, so I was inspired to do some volunteering to try to use some of the skills I already had."
She is a community volunteer and before Covid-19 restrictions were imposed she helped count and bank donations from collection boxes left on shop counters and in other locations around North Northamptonshire
She is looking forward to getting back to volunteering and expanding her role as a volunteer.
She said: “I am enormously proud to give back a little to the local air ambulance charity, they have done so much for me.
"I would encourage anyone to take up volunteering, it really is a wonderful thing to do.
"There are many different roles, and you can do as much or as little as suits you. I know any help is really appreciated by the charity."
Letitia - along with all Northamptonshire air ambulance volunteers - will be celebrated and thanked by the charity during this year’s Volunteers’ Week, for the contribution they make.
Head of volunteering for the charity, Sue Haslett, said: “This Volunteers’ Week, The Air Ambulance Service is celebrating the fantastic contribution of all our volunteers.
"Letitia, along with our other volunteers, helps in a variety of different ways across the charity and we couldn’t operate without them.
“I’d like to say a big thank you to Letitia - and all our Northamptonshire Volunteers - for their ongoing support which helps us to save lives.”
Anyone wishing to enquire about volunteering for the charity can visit: www.theairambulanceservice.org.uk or call 0300 3045999.