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LISTEN: Helicopter heroes get ringing endorsement

LISTEN: Helicopter heroes get ringing endorsement

Published at 7:02am 25th November 2016. (Updated at 12:31pm 25th November 2016)

A Ripon bell-ringer who suffered serious injuries in a bell tower fall is appealing for support for a special sponsored challenge to thank Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

Robert Wood was doing maintenance work on the 116-year-old bells at Middleham Parish Church, in Wensleydale, when he slipped and fell several feet onto part of the mechanism, impaling his chin on a metal peg.

The impact smashed Robert's jaw and narrowly missed the major blood vessels in his neck.

Amazingly, the 62-year-old managed to make his way down the tower to a shocked colleague who called the emergency services.

Robert recalls the eye-watering accident:

Fearing major blood vessel and nerve damage, Yorkshire Air Ambulance airlifted the retired environmental health officer to the major trauma centre at James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.

Robert, a regular bell-ringer at Ripon Cathedral, underwent a four-hour operation to repair his shattered jaw, which is now held together by metal plates, and spent five days in hospital.

He said: "I was at the top of the tower, walking across the metal bell frame when I missed my footing and ended up landing chin-first onto a piece of the bell mechanism which had a rusty metal peg on the end. I managed to get myself off that and make my way down the ladder. It's amazing what you can do with adrenalin.

"The land and then air ambulance were there very quickly and I was just so grateful to be flown to hospital within minutes. They saved me from what would have been a long and painful journey of over an hour on winding roads."

Robert is attempting a special bell-ringing marathon on Saturday at St Thomas-a-Becket Church, Stockton, in a bid to raise the estimated £4,000 cost of his air ambulance flight.

He and 11 bell-ringing friends and family from as far afield as Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire will attempt a minimum of 5,000 different changes in the full peal, which will involve over three hours of non-stop ringing.

Robert, who has been bell-ringing since the age of 13, added: "It is certainly a challenge that requires stamina and a high level of concentration.

"But I wanted to repay the cost of my flight. You see the air ambulance and put your loose change into a collection tin never ever thinking that one day you will need this fantastic service."

Robert's accident will feature in a future episode of Helicopter ER, a TV series which follows the life-saving work of Yorkshire Air Ambulance currently airing on reality channel Really every Monday at 10pm.

You can support Robert's sponsored bell peal at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Robert-Wood-Bells