The Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Andrew Foster had special reason to visit the Great North Air Ambulance Service headquarters at Progress House in Eaglescliffe, Stockton. Andrew along with his wife Angela was accompanied by the Provincial Grand Master John Thompson, and Assistant Provincial Grand Master John Watts, armed with a cheque for £5025.00 as a donation to this brilliant service which is entirely funded by charity.
So why would this visit be special to Andrew Foster you may ask? The answer is in his moving story below, told in his own words: –
“On Thursday the 9th of December 2021, I played golf at Blackwell Grange Golf club with my friends as usual. After a coffee in the Clubhouse, I set off for the short journey home.
On leaving the carpark I felt unwell, stopped the car, removed my seat belt, and tried to open the door. At this point I lost consciousness and as a consequence I pressed the accelerator which took the car down the drive demolishing a lamp post and then colliding with a tree. I was projected against the steering column and my head went through the windscreen. The first person to the scene was a retired GP from Darlington, Dr. Roger James, who upon assessing the situation and injuries called for the ambulance. Had it not been for his insistence for immediate care I might not have survived. John Zissler, another golfing friend, called my wife to inform her of the accident and advised her not to attend. Angela asked our daughter to attend the scene and she also telephoned our son who travelled up immediately from Bishops Stortford. My daughter arrived just before the Air Ambulance and stopped the Paramedics before they treated me saying that she needed to inform them of a condition. They thought that this was to be some medication information but when she said her dad did not like needles, they took one look at me and said to her that he had better get used to them!
I can remember gaining consciousness and looking up at a helicopter coming in to land and thought who was this important person coming to play golf in such a method of transport.
The car was embedded into the tree and there was a fear that it was about to set fire and I was trapped. The fire brigade cut the side of the car open while the crew from the GNAAS attended to me. I could not remember too much but can recall feeling totally comforted by the calm and professional manner in which they applied immediate medical care to make me as comfortable as possible.
I was transferred to James Cook hospital in Middlesbrough where I was kept in the critical care unit for 24 hours before undergoing an operation and a week’s treatment. This was during the covid pandemic and patients were unable to receive any visitors, but the hospital allowed our daughter to be with me throughout the initial treatment and this dispensation was transferred to our son when he arrived.
The treatment for a dislocated and broken hip, broken ribs and 58 facial stitches was brilliantly administered, and I am extremely happy to say that after 12 months recuperation i was discharged from all treatment and I have made a full and complete recovery.
To mark the gratitude that I have for the GNAAS I decided with my family and friends to try to raise funds for this amazing service which is provided totally by charitable giving. We held a fund-raising event at Darlington Cricket club and raised an incredible £1,564 and also opened a Just giving page which raised £704. I am also incredibly grateful to the Freemasons of Durham, my other great passion who, through Durham Benevolence agreed to round the total cheque to £5,025.
Through the generosity of all my family and friends I am delighted to be able to present this magnificent amount to the GNAAS and I am sure that they will put it to great use.”
Andrew and the visiting party were given a full tour of the facilities and met some of the brilliant staff who provide such an important service to the Northeast of England and the surrounding areas. An incredibly special moment for Andrew was to personally thank Marcus the paramedic primarily involved in his care and a big hug from him provided an emotional thank you to him and his staff for saving his life.
The large cheque which had been expertly written by Angela was presented to the GNAAS beside the helicopter involved.