A GUNSHOT victim who lost part of his leg in a freak accident is helping raise money for the air ambulance that saved him.
South Hetton man Craig Crawford was acting as a beater on a pheasant shoot in Sutton Bank, North Yorkshire, when a boy in the group accidently fired his gun.
The 27-year-old lost a chunk of his left calf after he was hit with pellets from the cartridge.
Craig said: “The gun went off, and it was crazy. It had been the first time I’d even been out that year on a shoot.
“My friend rang for an ambulance, and they didn’t know where Sutton Bank was, and the next thing I knew, the helicopter was in the field, and that was it – I was at James Cook in minutes.
“I definitely needed it when I looked at my leg. It was bleeding.”
Craig was airlifted by the Great North Air Ambulance (GNAA) to the James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough, where he underwent surgery to clean the wound and remove as many pieces of metal as doctors could find.
He later underwent a second visit for skin grafts to help the wound heal.
After 18 months off work because of his injury, and with 10 pellets still in his leg, he is now working as a dumper truck driver in Huddesfield, returning home at weekends.
Now he has joined the support crew helping a team of 16 cyclists as they ride 140 miles from Morcambe in Lancashire back to their home village, where they will be welcomed with a celebration at the cricket club.
The three-day event is the fourth such challenge for the group, with a different starting point and charity arranged each time.
Craig’s dad Paul, 52, a warehouse supervisor, is among those on the ride.
He said: “We do it for a different cause every year, and we decided this time it would be for the air ambulance as there are a number of people who have been helped by it.
“The support drivers who will meet us at the hotels, those on the bikes, we’re all behind the Great North Air Ambulance.”
Colin Noble, 49, who runs Peterlee Electrical Wholesale, organised the ride alongside David Adamson and Barry Irving, who are also among the cyclists.
He told the Echo: “We’re looking forward to it, but this one is a difficult challenge, and we’re doing it for a regional charity rather than someone in the village.
“The Great North Air Ambulance has given us the T-shirts and the sponsor forms, and we got £4,000 last year, so we’re hoping to get more than that.”
Anyone who would like to sponsor the group can contact the cricket club on 526 8671.