Woman walks 20 miles to raise funds for Yorkshire Air Ambulance after suffering crippling leg and brain injuries in road accident

A young woman left with crippling physical and mental injuries in a road accident when she was 11 years old has walked 20 miles from the crash site to the LGI to raise money for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

Friday, 30th July 2021, 12:28 pm

Chloe Haywood's injuries were so severe that she needed treatment much faster than a road ambulance could accommodate and it was the charity's helicopter that flew her, within minutes, from that fateful scene on Low Road in Sherburn-in-Elmet to one of the best medical teams in the country at Leeds General Infirmary.

Now aged 22, and living her life to the very fullest that she can, Miss Haywood wanted to do something to mark ten years since the accident and to raise the funds and awareness for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance which, at a daily running cost of £12,000 a day, relies on donations to operate because it is not government funded.

Despite having broken her leg twice, once in the accident and again as a result of complications caused by her brain injuries, on Wednesday and 11 years to the day, she recreated that journey on foot, albeit a year later than planned due to the COVID pandemic, and walked from Low Road to the LGI.

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A sunny start to the 20 mile walk. (L-R) Ben Pugh, Chloe Haywood, Sophie Pugh and Susan Pugh.

She was joined on the eight hour trek by her boyfriend Ben Pugh, his sister Sophie (who since signing up for the walk needed the services of Yorkshire Air Ambulance herself following a motorbike accident) and their mother, Susan Pugh.

Chloe's mother who was also meant to walk but got called into work saw them off, and along the way they were met by family and friends, and their dog Buddy, with food, drinks and words of encouragement.

More than £1800 has been raised so far with money coming in still.

Donate: Pledge your support to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance hereMs Haywood, who lives in Brotherton-Byram said: "We had the right mindset and knew we would complete it but it was still a lot on the day, a lot of thinking and a lot of pushing yourself. We are grateful to a lot of people, they were there when we needed them and they helped a lot.

The walkers experienced some British summer weather along the way.

"We had sun and were in shorts, it started absolutely bucketing it down, at one of the stops we had hail, there was thunder and lightening. We had all forms of British weather, particularly for the last six miles but when we hit Leeds and when it got to that last ten minutes, we knew it was that close and all started bombing along. It felt really surreal, we had been planning it for so long and we were there."

Miss Haywood has done fundraisers over the years - but the walk was the biggest challenge as, despite her accident being in 2010 she still struggles with the physical and mental effects of it.

On July 28, 2010, she was two days into the school holidays, was looking forward to starting at Sherburn High School and was on her way to the park to meet her cousin and sisters.

She said: "The park was literally over the road but I didn't make it."

Made it. After 20 miles and eight hours they arrived at the LGI.

She can't remember the incident but thinks she didn't see the car or misjudged how close it was and was hit by it, suffering a badly broken right leg and a head injury causing swelling on the brain and dilated pupils.

Miss Haywood said: "I can't really remember, it is my brain blocking it out. I didn't know but a paramedic lived down the street and was the first on the scene, he knew the signs of a head injury and that is why I was flown. I am pretty lucky.

"Thank God for skinny jeans because they held my leg together, it was such a bad break that if I wasn't wearing them, the bone would have come out."

She was placed in a coma and side effects of her brain injury made her body spin, where she ended up breaking her leg again. A titanium rod had to be flown from America and put in her leg, which is still in there.

Their support crew see them off from the Eversley Park Centre at Sherburn in Elmet.

Miss Haywood was in hospital for seven weeks, has one leg shorter than the other, short term memory loss and trouble registering verbal communication so has to write things down.

Despite this she has vowed to live life to the full and works as a chef, which is what she always wanted to do, despite it being a "massive challenge".

She said: "The bones are healed but I still struggle, my memory is not good sometimes, my anxiety is not good. I was in a coma and there was a point where they did not know who I was going to be and to what extent my injuries were. But, I have this outlook of 'you don't know what is around the corner, don't let it get in the way of what you want to achieve'.

"When it got to ten years I thought 'look at how far I have come, look at me' and I wanted to mark it and do something to get the message out there that Yorkshire Air Ambulance is only a charity. They work in the same way the paramedics and ambulances do but for some reason it is not government funded. I will always feel in debt to them".