On the morning of 9th November 2015 Trisha Bradford and her daughter were enjoying a horse ride along Carbis Bay beach in St Ives. Unfortunately Trisha’s saddle slipped while she was cantering along the sand and she fell badly, breaking her back. She describes what happened next.
“A lady who was here on holiday was walking her dog saw me fall and came over to check on me before calling 999. I thought at this stage I was just badly winded but it just became clear that it was more serious as I couldn’t get up.
“It felt like quite a while as I was lying on wet sand and rapidly getting wet and cold. An ambulance came. They checked me over and quickly realised I couldn’t be moved as it was my back which was causing the pain. They sent for the air ambulance. To be honest, that scared me more than I can describe, I wasn’t sure how I felt about going in a helicopter but I wasn’t in a position where I could argue about it.
“By this time I had been on the wet sand for quite a while and was getting really cold. The tide was now coming in, the coastguards had arrived and the ambulance crew were asking dog walkers to clear the beach as the helicopter was on its way.
“I had gone past shivering by this point as the water had come up through all of my clothes and I was freezing. Then I heard the helicopter.
“Oh my goodness, it was so loud! I can’t remember who said it but I was told they couldn’t switch the engine off as the tide was coming in and they were just going to get me and leave nice and quick.
“Then, the loveliest man knelt over me and said, “Hi Trisha, everything is going to be OK.” It was totally unbelievable how in one sentence he had me absolutely trusting everything he said and did. I just remember feeling my tears running down my face! He carried on talking but I couldn’t really hear anything. He kept looking down at me just smiling and nodding! Totally amazing. I will never, ever forget it.
“When they put me into the helicopter, a different person was taking care of me who, again, was just fantastic. He put a set of headphones on me so I could hear what he was saying but I was too cold to answer him. No words will ever describe how safe they made me feel. They took all fear away from me.
“I was left with a broken back and a long recovery in front of me which is going really well now. I am 11 weeks on and back walking – soon to be riding again.”
“My family are well known as having served 150 years in the RNLI. My father and his father before him were both coxswains of the St Ives Lifeboat. I also was a member of the launch crew, being the tractor driver for 8 years. I never really thought about it other than it was my dad’s job and when I was driving I would just launch and think “job done”. Until my accident. You never know when you are going to need these people. They are the true salt of the earth, showing care and empathy no matter what they are faced with. I am looking at it all through very new set of eyes now! You never think it’s going to happen to you.”