A Lincolnshire police officer who suffered potentially life threatening injuries in a cycling accident is set to trek across the Sahara Desert for a charity.
Spalding officer PC Sarah Draper was rushed to hospital by the air ambulance when she fell off her bike on a cycling holiday in Derbyshire in 2011.
Doctors feared PC Draper may have suffered serious head and neck injuries as her helmet had split as a result of the impact – however she escaped with a broken shoulder and concussion and has made a full recovery.
She has praised the air ambulance for its service and has vowed to raise money for the Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance by trekking 60 miles across the Sahara Desert.
PC Draper said: “I was advised at the hospital that had I not been wearing a helmet I could well have died. I crashed in a wooded area and so initially had to be loaded into the back of the park ranger’s truck on a stretcher and driven to the helicopter landing site.
“The care I received was outstanding and all of the crew were brilliant with me – calm and reassuring and patient as I was very apprehensive about flying in the helicopter initially.”
PC Draper will embark on the trek in September when she heads to Marrakech.
A group of 20 people will be taking part, including a helicopter paramedic and two ladies who work for the charity.
PC Draper added: “I decided to participate in this challenge because it sounded like an opportunity for a trip of a lifetime whilst at the same time raising money for a very worthwhile local cause – who Lincolnshire Police work alongside regularly at incidents.
“It is quite a daunting challenge as although I have travelled abroad plenty of times I have never done anything like this before, only ‘normal’ beach holidays. I have always wanted to visit Marrakech though and so this is a really exciting opportunity to tick a place off my list whilst at the same time raising funds for an excellent local charity.
“I feel really motivated now that I have started fundraising to raise as much money as possible. Ultimately any one of us could require the help of the air ambulance at any time and in a rural county like Lincs the helicopter could mean the difference between life and death yet it does not receive any government funding.
“I tend to get sun burnt quite easily and so I’m not sure how I’ll manage in daytime temperatures of up to 40 degrees! These will drop down to single figures at night time so there will be real extremes to cope with.
“I have been training regularly at the gym since signing up for the trip – although my job requires me to maintain a good standard of fitness anyway and I generally enjoy exercising and keeping active. The group of trekkers are planning some training days walking in the Peak District so that we can try out our kit and get to know each other a little before the trek.”
The five day trek will begin on September 30 from the desert town of M’Hamid, heading towards a sand dune called Erg Zaher (580m tall) which PC Draper and the group will climb to watch the sunset. From there they will trek to the end point of the desert town Ouarzazate.
The group consists of approx. 20 people, men and women, aged from 20s to 50s. One of the helicopter paramedics is completing the trek as well as two others who work for the charity.