Farmer’s fundraising heroics for East Anglian Air Ambulance will be honoured at Carrow Road
- Credit: Ann Kent
A Norfolk farmer who overcame horrific injuries to become a charity champion for the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) will be celebrated by football fans at Carrow Road on Saturday.
Tim Papworth raised almost £5,500 for the EAAA by completing the five-mile Only the Brave mud obstacle race last weekend at the Elveden Estate, near Thetford – making him the highest individual fund-raiser among the 1,600 competitors.
The course provided a physical challenge for the 48-year-old, whose accident in October 2010 left him with a metal plate in his skull, and titanium in his spine where eight vertebrae were fused and three discs removed.
Mr Papworth, whose family's farming business is based at Felmingham, near North Walsham, fell from a 14ft ladder onto a concrete floor while changing a light bulb in a potato store in Tunstead in October 2010.
He suffered two bleeds on his brain, but the air ambulance crew was able to stabilise and sedate him before carrying him to the specialist trauma unit at Addenbrooke's hospital in Cambridge within the critical 'golden hour' which determines a patient's chances of recovery.
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He said he wanted to show his gratitude by raising money for the charity – an effort which will see him become the Community Hero for Norwich City's match against Reading on Saturday afternoon.
'I am going to meet the players and carry the match ball onto the pitch before kick-off, ' he said. 'I am doing all of this because it raises awareness and generates more money for EAAA, which saved my life.
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'Without the air ambulance I would not be here. With a serious head injury you need to get to hospital quickly in that critical first hour otherwise you can get serious brain damage. I have been very fortunate.'
Reflecting on his performance at Only the Brave, Mr Papworth said: 'I certainly found it a challenge. My body has been re-built. I knew it would be a challenge getting through the obstacles, but the mud didn't worry me at all, because I am a farmer, so getting muddy and wet is my life role anyway.
'But five miles is a long way with a titanium spine and a titanium head and a bad ankle.'
Holly Lambert, fundraising manager for the EAAA, said the event had already raised £160,000 for the charity's funds, adding to the £110,000 raised last year.
She added: 'It was really tough, but Tim was determined to get round the course. He started off trying to raise £1,000 but kept going and going, higher and higher, which is amazing.
'We had 1,600 participants over the two days, and I would say the majority of these are brand new to the charity, so to have someone like Tim running, and raising so much money, shows people why the air ambulance is important.'
For more information on the work of the East Anglian Air Ambulance, click here or call 08450 669 999.