Norfolk farmer tells how East Anglian Air Ambulance saved his life

Farmer Tim Papworth is absolutely convinced that he would not be alive today if it wasn't for the air ambulance coming to his rescue just over 18 months ago.

Tim, a director of family contract farming firm L F Papworth based at Felmingham, near North Walsham, fell and suffered a life-threatening head injury while changing a light bulb in October 2010.

He says: 'It's a life-changing experience I had.

'I'm working on getting back to full recovery, but something so simple can change your life so drastically.

'I was changing a light bulb and fell head first on to concrete and thank God some of my members of staff were there to instantly react and call the emergency services.


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'I was airlifted by air ambulance to Addenbrooke's.

'I was at death's door and without them I wouldn't be here talking to you today.'

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Tim had two bleeds on his brain and was put into a drug-induced coma by the air ambulance crew and remained in a coma for five weeks.

The air ambulance team were able to stablise and sedate him and he also had a punctured lung and broke all the ribs on his left-hand side.

Tim now jokes that he is being rebuilt in titanium, as he has a titanium plate where they removed part of his skull and has kept as a macabre memento the large chunk of bone that was removed.

At the time of the fall, Tim already had eight vertebrae in his spine fused with titanium.

He says: 'When I fell, because my spine was fused, I couldn't right myself in the air and my balance wasn't quite so good because of that.

'But the doctors reckon that if I hadn't had my spine fused at that point I would have broken my spine and be in a wheelchair. On balance, I'm very lucky.'

Now 44, Tim was 42 at the time of the accident, with a wife, Emma, and three young children.

He says the support of his whole family, including son Jack, 14, and daughters Polly, 11, and Daisy, six, as well as the support of the farming community has helped him to rebuild his life.

He estimates he still has another year of recovery, but in the last few weeks has been able to start driving and going to the gym as part of his bid to regain full fitness.

He says: 'I wasn't doing anything unusual, just changing a light bulb. It can happen to anybody at any time.

'That's why it's so important to have the air ambulance.

'It could happen to you while you're riding a horse, crossing the road or just walking down the street.

'I think the farming community is very supportive of the air ambulance.

'I think farming has done a lot to improve its health and safety image.

'But we are rural and operating complicated machinery and livestock, so the very nature of what we are trying to do does put us at risk.'

He added: 'I'd also like to mention the marvellous work that goes on at the Colman Hospital in Norwich. Their specialist rehabilitation team have been looking after me and I'm indebted to them for their help to rebuild me, to help me get back to work and driving.'

Tim is fully behind plans for the air ambulance to start flying during the hours of darkness.

He says: 'At the moment the nights are pulling out, but you get to quarter past four in November and December and it's already very dark.

'I think being able to extend the hours that way is absolutely fantastic.

'It will be a great help, not just to the farming community but to all rural communities.'

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