Published: 20 April 2024

Wales Air Ambulance is delighted to announce it is launching its summer raffle with the support of past patient Craig Harrendence.

Craig’s life was saved in April 2023 after he suffered catastrophic injuries following a serious motorbike accident which resulted in him being thrown 60 feet from his bike.

The Wales Air Ambulance team arrived within minutes and found Craig lying face down with his helmet still on. The team had been returning to their base in Dafen, Llanelli, from a previous incident when they received the call. On arrival at the scene, the medics gave Craig a general anaesthetic at the roadside and he also needed a blood transfusion – treatments not usually available outside of a hospital environment.

The experienced motorcyclist had clipped the central reservation of the A48 near Penllegaer, Swansea, just minutes after leaving his home. He was left with extensive injuries and fighting for his life.

A grateful Craig, aged 53, credits the Wales Air Ambulance with saving his life. With 35 years of biking experience, he never imagined that he would need the help of the Charity.

He said: “I don’t remember much about the incident, but I was badly injured. The Wales Air Ambulance are lifesavers, without a shadow of a doubt.”

With Craig’s blood pressure being incredibly low, which is a sign of possible internal bleeding, and with his heart rate being very fast, the medics realised quickly that Craig would need the blood products that they carry on the aircraft.

Dr Chris Hingston, who helped to treat him at the scene, said: “It turned out later that Craig needed nearly all the blood products which we carry. It is always a worry because patients who are that sick don’t often survive.”

After noticing there was a crack in Craig’s helmet, and with Craig becoming agitated and confused, the Wales Air Ambulance medics suspected a head injury, so administered the general anaesthetic.

Dr Hingston, who also looked after Craig whilst he was in intensive care, added: “We gave specialist drugs to help with blood clotting and we realised that Craig would need a general anaesthetic at the roadside, not just for pain relief but because he would need other interventions once he got to the hospital.”

The team transported the former Royal Engineer to the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff.

Reflecting on what he has been through, Craig - who is continuing to undergo physiotherapy - said: “My left leg was open so you could see my fibula, but my pelvis was broken. I had a collapsed lung and fractured spleen, and internally my blood was low which wasn’t a good sign. I have had to have a buttock removed.”

Craig regained consciousness three days after his accident and was told ‘things were not looking good at all’ and it was unlikely that he would walk again and would need a wheelchair.

He continued: “I am a stubborn man and I was determined to get better. I spent 10 weeks in hospital and then I was home. My consultant was blown away by my recovery and the physios were amazed.

“I have reduced my medicine by my own request, and I self-catheterise now so I have to be careful with what I eat – there’s no pizza or red wine! But I’m fiercely independent and I am coping.”

Following Craig’s remarkable recovery, he is encouraging people to support this year’s Summer Raffle in aid of the lifesaving charity which helped save his life.

Tickets, which are £1 each, will be sold from Saturday 20 April and will close on Monday 17 June. They are available from the Charity’s shops, fundraising representatives and online. The draw will take place on Friday 28 June and one lucky winner will win £3,000, with a second prize of £500 and third prize of £300. Why don’t you buy a ticket and be a lifesaver!

Craig, who has now returned to his job as a joiner for Swansea Council, added: “I just want to thank the Wales Air Ambulance as without the intervention of the service, I don’t think I’d be here. The outcome would have been very different - I would not be here talking about what happened to me today.”

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.

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.