Sophie tackles Great North Run in memory of brother killed in motorbike tragedy

(from left) parmedic Terry Sharpe, pilot Phil Lambert, James Taylor, Sophie Laidler, pilot Owen McTeggart and Doctor Chris Smith
(from left) parmedic Terry Sharpe, pilot Phil Lambert, James Taylor, Sophie Laidler, pilot Owen McTeggart and Doctor Chris Smith
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A student is hitting the road in memory of her brother who died in a motorcycle collision.

Sophie Laidler, 29, will tackle the Great North Run to raise funds for the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS), which went to the aid of her brother Michael after his motorbike collided with a wall in Upper Weardale in August 2015.

Michael Laidler

Michael Laidler

Despite the best efforts of emergency services, Michael, 22, from West Rainton, was sadly pronounced dead at the scene.

“Michael has been a huge inspiration for this challenge,” said Sophie, a PHD archaeology student at Durham University.

“He lived life to the full. I’m really nervous about it but he would tell me to just get on with it.”

Speaking of the accident, she said: “My older brother David who was there at the time, told us how wonderful GNAAS were and how quickly they responded.

Sophie Laidler and James Taylor in training

Sophie Laidler and James Taylor in training

“They were in a rural location with no phone signal and David had to run to a nearby cottage to call for help.

“In a situation where time is of the essence, it is reassuring to know that in the worst moments of your life, no matter how remote of a location you are in, the GNAAS can get to you.

“Before then we knew very little about the good work they do, but we’ve learned so much about the services that they provide to the region and how many lives they save.”

Sophie will tackle the run with friend, James Taylor, 30, from Durham, and they have high hopes of raising lots of cash for the charity: “The GNAAS crew are completely selfless and I think that it is a tragedy that they have to rely on donations to continue saving lives,” she said.

Sophie Laidler and James Taylor

Sophie Laidler and James Taylor

“We are so grateful to everyone before us who has raised money to keep the service going so that they could be there for Michael.”

Miss Laidler, dad Trevor Laidler and James visited the GNAAS’ Langwathby airbase to thank paramedic Terry Sharpe and pilot Owen McTeggart who were at the scene of James’s accident.

“It was wonderful to meet such kind, hardworking and dedicated people,” she said.

“We wanted to express our gratitude for all they did in person.”

Terry said: “It is always a poignant moment when we meet the family of a patient who has sadly died.

“We are hugely grateful to them for their continued fund-raising efforts which help us to stay in the air. We are indebted.”

If you missed out on a Great North Run ballot place and want to run for charity, visit gnaas.com