A Highland couple have backed calls to base a new air ambulance in the north-east – after they were each airlifted during separate rescue missions within a matter of weeks.
Paul Wilson was flown to safety when his all-terrain vehicle somersaulted down a steep slope near Loch Garry before coming to rest against a large rock. Only that prevented him from tumbling hundreds of feet further.
His wife Alison, meanwhile, was trampled by her horse on the shores of the expanse just three weeks later and also had to be airlifted by Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA).
The couple are now supporting a £6 million fundraising campaign to secure a second charity helicopter – and have backed a drive to have it based in Aberdeen.
Mr Wilson, who lives at Cawdor near Nairn, said: “This is the sort of rural area where extra help would be most appreciated. There seem to be several obvious reasons it should be based in the north-east.
“We would both have been snookered without it. We know how important it is.”
Mr Wilson, a gamekeeper, required urgent medical attention for leg injuries following the accident last July.
The 38-year-old said he “thought he was going to die” as the all-terrain vehicle he was in with a friend plunged down a slope before smashing into the rock that arrested its descent.
Mr Wilson said: “I managed to crawl clear and then levered the vehicle off my mate with a wooden post.”
Due to the remote and “inaccessible” location, SCAA’s Scone-based copter was scrambled to airlift him to hospital.
Mr Wilson was “drifting in and out of consciousness” but recalls feeling “huge relief” when the mercy crew arrived.
He added: “I was in a great deal of pain and the crew was just amazing, I immediately relaxed knowing I was in expert hands.”
Mr Wilson was kept in Ninewells Hospital in Dundee overnight and was subsequently off work for two weeks.
His wife was walking her horse on the banks of Loch Garry three weeks later when she needed the life-saving helicopter, after the horse sank into soft sand and took fright.
Mrs Wilson said: “She panicked because she was up to her belly in this gloopy, silty sand and then she seemed to get some purchase and scrambled towards me.”
Knowing what was coming, the 37-year-old rolled into a ball as the horses hooves thundered off her back.
The mum-of-two, who suffered bruised lungs and several broken ribs, added: “The pain was horrendous.
“The whole weight of the horse was crashing into me and I really thought I was going to break.”
Shortly afterwards, Mrs Wilson passed out and her worried family called paramedics – who decided that the air ambulance was required.
She said: “I remember saying ‘please don’t send the helicopter’ as I couldn’t believe we were tying up the service yet again.
“But I’m so glad they were there. I remember feeling real relief when I heard them coming and then landing nearby.”