Paralysed charity cyclist raising money to thank Great North Air Ambulance for coming to his aid

Will Clark was taking part in a charity triathlon in 2012 which led to him receiving life changing injuries. Credit: Great North Air Ambulance Service

A Grasmere man has spoken about the help that he received from the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) following a charity triathlon crash.

Will Clark suffered life changing injuries in 2012 when he was cycling during a charity triathlon.

Now he is a volunteer and fundraiser for the charity and raised £12,500 when he took part in the Great North Run where he was pushed by friends and family.

Will took part in the Great North Run in 2014 where he raised £12,500. Credit: Great North Air Ambulance Service

Speaking about his injuries which has seen him paralysed from the shoulders down, he said: "Tragically during a charity triathlon, a stick got caught in the wheel of my bike sending me over the handlebars leading to me breaking the right side of my neck with permanent damage at the C4 vertebrae.

"This led to me being paralysed from the shoulders down. Being young and fit, I hadn't given GNAAS much thought prior to this accident.

"The good thing is other people's support meant that they were there when I needed them.”

Following his accident, Will was flown to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle for surgery before he was transferred to the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough where he spent five months in rehab.

Also a local councillor in the Lakes, Will has spoken to the local community about the work GNAAS do.

He said: “I have since spoken to many groups largely in Cumbria about the charity to encourage them to give their support and help them understand where the money that they have raised or plan to raise goes and how important it is.

“I attended the volunteer open day with my family at the new base at Progress House inEaglescliffe which led to discussions about alternative ways to raise funds.

"My mum suggested that perhaps we should try to arrange a clothing collection. Subsequently she has signed up as a volunteer.  

“We have now had three collections of clothing. The first was quite low key, we have certainly learnt as we have gone on, and the second and third were at Ambleside Parish Centre.

"We also spoke to Ambleside School about what we are doing and why, and Miles the Bear, who is a mascot for GNAAS, even made an appearance. Each time we have held a collection, word has spread and we have had a greater level of support.”

Angela Clark and her son Will Clark have been raising money for the charity through clothing collections. Credit: Great North Air Ambulance Service

Mieke Tennant, community fundraiser at GNAAS, said: “In December, Angela organised a collection of 250 bags of clothes, and then in January our Trading Company picked up no less than 365 bags from Ambleside Parish Centre.

“I’d like to thank Angela, Will, and Ambleside Parish Centre who allowed us to use their space, as it was completely taken over by bags.

“We’re also very happy to welcome Angela onboard as an official registered volunteer for GNAAS. She is so inspirational, and she's helping us recruit other volunteers in the area, which is fantastic.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...