OCTOGENARIANS Gordon Slack and Tom Smith have been friends for more than 20 years.
They share many interests including being former employees of Rolls Royce.
But they now have another common bond – both have been airlifted by the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance.
The pair are both keen supporters of the charity that saved their lives and they are encouraging people to get involved with Air Ambulance Week to help raise funds to keep the helicopters flying.
Tom, 81, had a heart attack in May while walking his dog in the village of Whatcote near Shipston where he lives.
He was taken home by a passing car and his wife rang 999. Within minutes the air ambulance landed in a nearby paddock and Tom was airlifted to Coventry University Hospital.
“People say I would have died without the helicopter,” he said. “The Air Ambulance Service receives no government funding and every mission they fly costs £1,700 so public donations are vital to keep it operational.”
Tom was already making regular donations to the charity after being impressed by the way they saved his friend Gordon’s life in September 2005 when he was crushed by his car in a freak accident at Draycote Water near Rugby.
The 83-year-old from Coventry, was at the reservoir for a day’s fishing. He parked his car on a slope and went down to the water’s edge. Suddenly someone shouted that his car was rolling into the water.
“I ran back and two friends and I physically tried to stop it. We couldn’t and the car ran over me and dragged me under. One of the others rang the emergency services,” Gordon recalled.
His multiple injuries were some of the worst seen by air ambulance paramedics who were forced to hold his chest together and do CPR as the helicopter flew him to hospital.
He was in an induced coma for two weeks and spent a further six weeks in intensive care before starting a period of rehabilitation on the long road to recovery.
“I’ve had an extra ten years of life thanks to the air ambulance,” said Gordon.
As a way of saying thank you, every year he and his family take part in the Rugby Lions Club sponsored walk around Draycote Water to raise money for Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance.
Tom and Gordon are doing their bit to support the charity that saved their lives and they are now hoping others will follow their example by volunteering or donating during Air Ambulance Week, which last year raised some £25,000.
People are also being urged to wear yellow cross badges that are being handed out across the region in exchange for donations – as a symbol of the air ambulance.
Visit www.theairambulanceservice.org.uk to find out more.