Stockton woman, 71, celebrates anniversary of day she almost died with GNAAS tattoo

Sue Wilkinson with Andy Mawson and doctor Phil Godfrey. Credit: GNAAS

A 71-year-old woman has celebrated the anniversary of the day she almost died by getting a tattoo.

Sue Wilkinson has had the Great North Air Ambulance Service's (GNAAS) logo inked on her back as a way of remembering the day she was brought back to life.

She praised the team who "performed a miracle" after her heart stopped beating in July 2021.

She had been enjoying coffee with friends when she started to feel unwell. After going home following a shopping trip to Primark, she felt like she was going to faint.

Her partner, Alastair Wright called 999, promoting an urgent response from the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS), GNAAS and a CIPHER Medical ambulance crew.

Mrs Wilkinson’s condition quickly deteriorated to the point that her heart stopped beating.

She Wilkinson said: “That’s when GNAAS performed a miracle on me.”

Sue Wilkinson has now made a full recovery after her brush with death. Credit: GNAAS

The retired civil servant was placed in an induced coma on scene and taken to James Cook University Hospital where she stayed for six days. She has since made a full recovery.

Mrs Wilkinson said: “The teams brought me back from the brink of death and do such a magnificent job. They saved my life.”

Mrs Wilkinson – who says she is more commonly known locally as the “corned beef pie lady” in recognition of her baking, visited the GNAAS team back in September 2021 at their Eaglescliffe base and brought along pies for all those who helped her.

To mark the two-year anniversary of the emergency incident, she decided to visit a tattoo shop in Stockton.

She said: “I wanted to celebrate two years since having my life back.

“It was funny really, walking into the tattoo shop full of young people who were probably thinking who is this granny with her walking stick?

“I’m still 18-years-old in my head.”

Sue Wilkinson celebrated the two-year anniversary of her health scare by getting a tattoo. Credit: GNAAS

Since her cardiac arrest, Mrs Wilkinson has decided to give something back and now volunteers at GNAAS on a regular basis, bringing her famous homemade corned beef pies and sausage rolls for the team.

Mrs Wilkinson said: “I wake up happy every single day because I’m alive and that’s because of GNAAS.

“I’ve been able to celebrate every milestone since like Christmas with my family, adventures with friends.

“Please support GNAAS, it is so important.”

The charity needs to raise £7.7m a year to remain operational.

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