Friend to help life-saving charity by running in pal’s memory

GNAAS paramedic Stuart Thompson, Nicola Hawdon, Chris Marshall and GNAAS doctor, Jeff Doran.
GNAAS paramedic Stuart Thompson, Nicola Hawdon, Chris Marshall and GNAAS doctor, Jeff Doran.
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The best friend of a young teacher who was killed by a careless driver will tackle the Great North Run in her name.

Nicola Hawdon, 25, will raise money for the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS), after its team tried their best to save Gemma Kay after the collision.

Gemma Kay, 23, who was killed by careless driver Laura Wright.

Gemma Kay, 23, who was killed by careless driver Laura Wright.

Gemma, 23, had been riding pillion on her boyfriend Gary Dodd’s motorbike when a car pulled out of a junction in front of their machine from Inkerman Road, Concord, Washington, on April 26 last year.

Both maths graduate Gemma, who had been finishing her teaching qualifications and had been due to start a job at a South Shields school, and her partner were thrown from the bike.

Her boyfriend was left with a broken leg and Gemma sustained multiple serious injuries, including to her head.

GNAAS was called to the incident and worked alongside North East Ambulance Service paramedics on scene before airlifting the patient to the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) in Newcastle.

She was like a sister to me, so it will be nice to honour her in this way.

Nicola Hawdon

Gemma was anaesthetised by the GNAAS doctor-led aircrew and given blood before she was transported, while her boyfriend was taken to the RVI by road.

Nicola, an admin student support officer at Newcastle University, ran the race in 2011 but decided to follow up her efforts this year in aid of GNAAS.

She said: “When I found out that Gemma had died in the collision I was absolutely heartbroken and devastated.

“She was like a sister to me, so it will be nice to honour her in this way.”

Nicola and her partner Chris Marshall recently visited the GNAAS airbase at Durham Tees Valley Airport to meet paramedic Stuart Thompson, who was one of those who battled to save Gemma.

She added: “I just wanted to thank everyone for everything they did for Gemma, it wasn’t the outcome we all wanted but their efforts were fantastic.”

It was an emotional visit for Nicola as she sought closure from the crew who assisted her best friend.

She said: “I have so much respect for GNAAS, they help people who are seriously in need.

“People wouldn’t be able to spend more time or say goodbye to their family members and friends if it was for their life-saving efforts.
“They are amazing.”

Nicola will begin training shortly and said she hopes to be carried along by the encouragement of the crowd, just as it did when she completed it the first time.

She said: “I remember running over the Tyne Bridge and all I was thinking was ‘what am I doing?’, then from the crowd I heard someone shout to me ‘Go on Nicola, you can do it!’, it was a huge boost.”

Last November Laura Wright, then 33, of Ann Avenue, Kelloe, was sentenced to a five-month night-time curfew and a year-long driving ban after admitting causing death by careless driving.

She was unable to explain to Sunderland Magistrates’ Court why she pulled out in front of the bike, which was travelling at just 30mph along Heworth Road.

To donate to Nicola’s fund, visit https://www.justgiving.com/Nicola-Hawdon1