Yorkshire crash survivors pledge to help fellow patients

M62 crash survivors Sarah Johnson (left) and Amy Firth
M62 crash survivors Sarah Johnson (left) and Amy Firth
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TWO women involved in last year’s horrific M62 hen party minibus crash have given their backing to a new charity helping survivors of major trauma rebuild their lives.

Sarah Johnson and Amy Firth were joined by others involved in serious accidents to launch the scheme at Leeds General Infirmary.

They have linked up to help others whose lives are turned upside down by the devastating injuries they have suffered.

Day One aims to improve the quality of life of patients from across Yorkshire who are cared for at the hospital’s Major Trauma Centre.

The organisation – set up by a Leeds professor and a group of patients – will provide those affected and their families with emotional support as well as practical assistance.

Ms Johnson and Ms Firth were among 20 women hurt in April last year when the minibus they were travelling on crashed on the M62 near Pontefract, an accident which in which their friend Bethany Jones died.

Ms Firth suffered severe pelvic injuries which left her fearing she might never walk again.

She has undergone numerous operations and after intensive physiotherapy, has now regained her mobility.

The 26-year-old, from South Elmsall, said the accident had changed her life but she was trying to look to the future.

“Things will never be the same but I am back a work a couple of hours, I’m just trying to get on with things and make the best of it,” she said.

Both say they want to support the charity in recognition of the care they received at LGI

“The trauma ward was just amazing. That made it a lot easier, being on a ward like that,” Amy said.

Ms Johnson, also 26, added: “We want to do it on behalf of all the other girls who went through this with us.

“It’s a really great charity and I’m proud to be a part of it so we can help people in similar circumstances.

“When you come out of hospital, that’s when the reality starts to hit and it’s hard knowing where to go for advice. Day One is where you can get advice and help from.”

Fellow patients Bob Nottingham, Gary Brennan and Robbie Silvester each had different experiences, but all are lucky to be alive after suffering a catalogue of life-threatening injuries in traffic accidents.

Mr Nottingham, from Wakefield, was terribly injured in an accident on the M606 near Bradford in 2009.

His family were warned he may not survive and he spent 15 weeks in LGI, over the years undergoing 30 operations.

He wants his knowledge and positive outlook to benefit new patients: “Hopefully I can help somebody else in the same situation,” the 67-year-old said.

Motorbike racer Robbie Silvester is living with the after-effects of an 140mph crash at the Isle of Man TT in 2006.

The 49-year-old from Pontefract says he “laid a few ghosts to rest” after being able to ride a ride a lap at the event this year.

He said that for patients, it was difficult to know where to go for advice on issues such as adapting the home, but providing emotional support was also crucial.

Gary Brennan was injured in a motorbike crash near Leeds, and was saved at LGI after he “died” three times.

He wants to support the hospital: “After 50 operations, I have taken enough out of the system and I want to put something back in too,” he said.

Prof Peter Giannoudis, led development of the charity, told guests at its launch at the LGI: “From simple advice and education through our website, to legal and financial support from our experts, we know how tough the journey is and will give the right help at the right time.”

Lizzie Jones with fellow campaigners.

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