A mountain biker who broke his neck in a horror accident has got back in the saddle to help raise money for the emergency medics who rescued him.
Father-of-two Rob Hobson was riding in Wharncliffe Woods, near Sheffield, when he was thrown over the handlebars on a steep descent and landed head-first on rocks.
Emergency services including the local mountain rescue team and the Yorkshire Air Ambulance scrambled to rescue him and he then spent several weeks undergoing intensive rehabilitation in hospital.
The 50-year-old and his mountain biking friends have now completed a charity ride to raise thousands of pounds for the medics who saved his life.
Rob said of the incident: “I knew straight away I had done something serious.
“I hit the rock so hard, I remember thinking how on earth am I still conscious, and then I realized I couldn’t feel anything from the neck down. That was pretty scary.”
With the help of the Woodhead Mountain Rescue Team Rob was airlifted to Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital where scans revealed he had broken his neck.
Surgeons inserted a metal plate between his damaged vertebrae and he spent over three weeks in hospital and a further six weeks in a brace at home, barely able to move.
Extensive physiotherapy and a determination to build up his strength and fitness again meant that he was able to return to work as a contract manager with Essential Fleet Services in Lincoln in September - just six months after the accident.
Rob, who lives in North Hykeham, Linclolnshire, said: “At the beginning the only thing I could do was sit up, supported in a chair or in bed.
“Although I was very fit the muscles deplete so quickly that I had to learn to walk again.
“Movement returned quite quickly in my legs but my left arm did not come back for several weeks and I still get a burning ache in my arms and shoulders because of the damage in the spinal cord.
“I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair and I can’t thank the air ambulance guys enough for what they did.”
Last month members of Rob’s mountain biking group completed the Pennine Bridleway Challenge – 170 miles of mountain bike trails and more than 20, 000ft of ascent in just four days – raising more than £4, 000 for Yorkshire Air Ambulance and the Woodhead Mountain Rescue Team.
Rob joined them for the last 12 miles of the route. Donations can still be made to his fundraising page at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/displaySomeoneSpecialPage.action?pageUrl=Rob_Hobsons_Pennine_Way_Challenge
His dramatic rescue was featured in an episode of Helicopter ER and broadcast on UKTV’s reality channel Really on Monday evening.
Yorkshire Air Ambulance serves five million people across Yorkshire and carries out over 1, 250 missions every year.
The charity needs to raise £12, 000 every day and is currently replacing its two ageing aircraft with state-of-the-art helicopters.