A FARMER who lost his right hand while working with a forage harvester is embarking on a cycling challenge to support the charity which came to his aid.

Ashley Herbert, 30, was on a farm at Cliburn near Penrith, where he lives, in July 2014 when his hand got caught in the machine after trying to fix an error.

He said: “Fortunately, my now father-in-law saw me in the field and wrestled me to the ground, and my brother-in-law found a piece of string and used it to tourniquet my arm. I thought that was the end of me.”

North West Ambulance Service arrived on the scene before the critical care team from the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) flew in and administered further treatment.

He said: “They gave me ketamine and I felt like I was in the movie Inception and everything was folding in on itself and I thought ‘oh I don’t like this’. I got loaded up on the helicopter and flown to the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) in Newcastle and I remember the whole flight because I was joking with the team on the way there.

“The forage harvester has rotating blades and it goes at 2,000rpm and minces everything up, cutting the grass to one inch long, so the remains of my hand were pulp basically. The surgeon said I couldn’t have done a better job of it.”

Mr Herbert left hospital after a week and returned to working on the farm three weeks later, however he had to get used to doing activities with one hand before getting his first prosthetic.

He said: “The prosthetics have got better and better and led me to be able to do most things again.”

Prior to his accident Mr Herbert was a keen cyclist who even rode the coast to coast in 2013 to raise money for GNAAS.

He’s since been able to get a prosthetic and bike adapted to his needs and has now challenged himself to complete a Land’s End to John O’Groats cycling challenge for GNAAS with his friend Craig Robinson in September.

“GNAAS are absolutely awesome,” he added. “To get to Newcastle I think the best run I’ve done when driving there is 1 hour and 40 minutes. It’s a long time and effectively I was bleeding out so the speed of the helicopter was great.

“They knew exactly what to do and I appreciate everything they have done for me. If it wasn’t for them I would have been in a worse position.

“I wanted to give back to them so that’s why I decided to do the ride.”

To sponsor the friends visit: http://www.justgiving.com/Ashley-and-craigs-lejog. GNAAS relies on donations to survive.

Please visit www.gnaas.com or call 01768 899 150 to support the charity, which operates from Langwathby, near Penrith.

GNAAS provide air ambulance services across the North-East, Cumbria and North Yorkshire and is entirely funded by charity.

It has bases at Langwathby, Urlay Nook, Eaglescliffe and Newcastle International Airport.

The charity’s roots go back to 1991, when the Great North Air Ambulance Service Appeal was launched with the aim of providing the North East of England’s first helicopter air ambulance. It took four years to raise enough money to bring this dream to fruition.

Since a funding crisis of 2004/05, the charity has not looked back. The service has continued to expand and in 2010 the decision was taken to buy three helicopters in order to ease the financial strain of leasing the aircraft. In March 2010, a deposit was placed on the Guardian of the North helicopter, which arrived in the North-East after undergoing a refit. It was followed in 2011 by the new Pride of Cumbria aircraft, which was stationed at Langwathby, near Penrith. Later the same year, a third helicopter was secured and went to work across the two bases. Now the work begins on securing the future of these three aircraft and their crew.