A MAN who says he owes his life to the Wiltshire Air Ambulance has taken to the skies to thank the organisation that saved him.

John Edwards collapsed after suffering a suspected heart attack while he was standing on a ladder doing some repair work at his daughter’s house.

When he collapsed he fell and hit his head so badly on the ground he suffered massive brain trauma.

It is just over a year since the accident and Mr Edwards is fully recovered, but he says if it had not been for the air ambulance service he probably would not have survived.

Exactly one year on, Mr Edwards was back in the air aboard the air ambulance, thanking the team who helped him that day.

As an added bonus, his son Clive, who is taking a helicopter flight training programme, was at the controls of the aircraft.

“It was pretty emotional for me, bearing in mind I knew nothing at all about my last flight,” said Mr Edwards. “The service I got that day saved my life. The fact I was treated during the flight was a factor in giving me every chance to make a full recovery.”

Mr Edwards, 67, a retired driving instructor, was in a coma for 16 days, first at Salisbury District Hospital and then in the neurological intensive care unit at Southampton. He says the care he received in both specialist units alongside the rapid response by the air ambulance were key to his recovery.

Mr Edwards’s daughter-in-law Julie is in little doubt that without the prompt response of the air ambulance crew and presence of his son-in-law, Steve Thomas, who gave CPR, he would not be alive today.

“We’ve been told there was massive brain trauma due to the fall and it was not unlike the case of Michael Schumacher, the Formula One driver, who had a near fatal accident while skiing and was in a lengthy coma,” she said.

“A year later, to see John back to his usual self is nothing short of a miracle.

He is such a character and it’s so wonderful that he is still with us.

“When Christmas came around and we could see that John was on the road to recovery I sent out Christmas cards telling friends and family to tell each other they love each other every single day. Life can change in a millisecond and we should always be aware of that.”

The family is now urging more people to support the fundraising efforts of the air ambulance charities.

“A case like this should wake up the politicians. They need to be put under pressure to help fund this service,” said Mrs Edwards. “During the journey to the hospital vital minutes of treatment, such as lowering the body temperature, helped give John the best possible chance. Everyone needs to support this service.”