A farmer seriously injured in an accident has thanked the air ambulance doctor who helped save his life – and urged farmers not to take risks with safety.
Tim Papworth, a director of family farm business L F Papworth at Felmingham, Norfolk had an emotional reunion with helicopter doctor Haris Begovic at East Anglian Air Ambulance’s Norwich base. It took place five years to the day after he fell from a ladder in a potato store at Tunstead near Wroxham while trying to change a light bulb.
Tim suffered a serious head injury and was sedated at the scene by Dr Begovic. The air ambulance then flew him to the specialist trauma unit at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, where he spent five weeks in a drug-induced coma. The doctor was on his first call out with the air ambulance crew.
Mr Papworth, vice chairman of the NFU’s national horticulture and potato board, said: “There’s nothing material that I can give someone who has saved my life because it would never be enough. All I can do is say thank you and try and promote the marvellous work that the air ambulance does.
“They looked after me right from the start, diagnosed me on site and saw that I had problems with my breathing. They knew exactly what to do and then flew me to Addenbrooke’s, where the medical team there took over.
“I also want to highlight the impact an accident like this can have on your family and your business. We’re much more conscious of safety all the while on the farm now and it’s made me slow down and think about every process.
“I’d like everyone to appreciate how important health and safety is. I would hate this to happen to anybody else because they might not be as lucky as I have been.”
After being thanked by Mr Papworth, Dr Begovic told him: “You are the first person I anaesthetised in the UK and it’s a result to see you like this. We’re a team on the air ambulance and we all worked together.”
Mr Papworth said the accident happened during a busy time on the farm, as potatoes were being moved into a new store at Tunstead. One of the light bulbs had gone and he agreed to change it.
“I can remember getting the bulb from my car and going up the ladder, but that’s as much as I can remember until I woke up at Addenbrooke’s,” he said.
“I couldn’t speak and I was paralysed on the left side of my body. I couldn’t do anything for myself. The only way I could communicate was by writing notes on bits of paper.
“Thanks to the marvellous work of the air ambulance and the team at Addenbrooke’s I knew I was going to survive but I was concerned about how I would function in the future and the effect it would all have on my wife Emma, our children and the family business. How to keep the business running and earn the money to look after my family worried me no end.”
Mr Papworth said he would also always be grateful to the farm workers who called the emergency services, the first responders who called in the air ambulance, and the staff at Colman Hospital in Norwich, who helped him with speech and occupational therapy. After three years he made a full recovery, apart from impaired hearing in his left ear.
He now raises money for East Anglian Air Ambulance, including £570 from collections at his Open Farm Sunday event last year.