Published: 13 May 2024

A North Wales doctor whose life was saved following a bike accident completed the London Marathon in aid of the Wales Air Ambulance as a thank you.

Helen Monk, 58, and her sister Emma Lyons from Birmingham, have raised an incredible £5,844 for the cause.

In August 2020, whilst cycling to the beach with her children, Helen was involved in a serious bike accident. She required critical care interventions from the crew on board Wales Air ambulance, which included being intubated on scene. Due to Helen’s blood loss from her facial wounds, she was placed in an induced coma and flown to the Major Trauma Centre in Stoke where she underwent emergency surgery.

Wales Air Ambulance is consultant-led, taking hospital-standard treatments to the patient and, if required, transferring them directly to the most appropriate hospital for their illness or injury. For the patient, this can mean hours saved when compared to standard care and is proven to greatly improve survival and early recovery.  

It is delivered via a unique Third Sector and Public Sector partnership. The Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service (EMRTS) supplies highly skilled NHS consultants and critical care practitioners who work on board the Charity’s vehicles.

The treatments Helen received at the roadside would usually only be available within a hospital setting.

As a pan-Wales service, the dedicated air ambulance crews, regardless of where they are based, will travel the length and breadth of the country to deliver emergency lifesaving care.

Mum-of-three Emma, 48, added: “Whilst Helen has made an amazing recovery, well she ran the marathon! This is undoubtedly in large part down to the fabulous efforts of the Wales Air Ambulance team that came to her that day. Looking after Helen so well, whilst keeping her children calm and informed.”

The Wales Air Ambulance needs to raise £11.2 million every year to keep its helicopters in the air and its rapid response vehicles on the road.

Reflecting on the importance of the lifesaving service and the support she has received, Helen said: “I ran the London Marathon because the Wales Air Ambulance rescued me. They intubated me at the roadside and transported me hospital where the surgeons repaired me! Without their expertise, I would not be here today! I am doing so well and appreciate every day that has been given to me as gift.

“I am so appreciative of all the financial and moral support that people have given. It is very moving to see that people care so much and believe in such a worthwhile cause.”

Helen, who is looking forward to returning to work when she’s able to, has always enjoyed running, and although she’s never taken part in a marathon previously, she always wanted to do one.

She said: “This was a great excuse to rise to the challenge and raise money for a great cause. The marathon was great!”

Helen, who has four grown up children – one who also ran the London marathon with them - listened to her sister Emma’s advice when it came to training for the big day. Emma said to follow the plan that the marathon organisers provided to the letter.

Helen added: “It wasn’t too arduous and involved on average three runs of varying time durations each week, gradually getting longer. The hardest thing was not necessarily running but running in the dark between January and March which you often had to do.” 

Reflect on running the 26.2-mile marathon, Helen added: “The initial run was fine until Rotherhithe, it seemed to then go on forever before reaching Canary Wharf. After that I knew there was only about 6 miles to go, and the end was in sight! The final run down the Mall to the finish, past Buckingham Palace was exhilarating and very welcome!”

Debra Sima, Wales Air Ambulance’s Regional Fundraising Manager said: “A huge congratulations to Helen and Emma on completing the London Marathon. What an achievement for both of them, especially Helen, who has been through so much and wanted to take on the huge challenge in aid of our cause. They raised an incredible amount of £5,844 for the Wales Air Ambulance. Helen knows first-hand how essential this service is to the people of Wales, and the funds will go towards ensuring the Charity will continue to be there for the people of Wales 24/7, just like they were for Helen. Thank you so much.”

If you’d like to show your support to Helen and Emma, you can do so by donating to their JustGiving page