A WOMAN who was rescued by the air ambulance after two serious bike crashes has set herself a swimming challenge to raise funds for the charity who airlifted her to safety twice.

Samantha Sugden, 42, from Penrith, was on a social bike ride with friends near Keswick when she hit a sinkhole, causing her to be thrown from her bike.

She sustained injuries to her brain and skull, fractured ribs, a lacerated spleen and an arterial bleed.

The Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) flew to the scene and assessed and treated Ms Sugden before airlifting her to the Royal Preston Hospital for further treatment.

News and Star: Samantha Sugden after her second bike crashSamantha Sugden after her second bike crash

It took the mother-of-two six months to recover from the incident, and in September 2018 she successfully swam the full length of Ullswater to raise funds for GNAAS.

However less than three weeks later, Ms Sugden was unlucky enough to require the services of the air ambulance again when she was involved in a collision with a bus while cycling down Kirkstone Pass, Ambleside.

The paramedic and doctor team from GNAAS assessed and treated Ms Sugden’s injuries before flying her to the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle, where she spent seven days recovering.

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She said: “I knew I’d broken my collarbone, but I thought I was alright. I didn’t realise I’d totally annihilated my spleen and I ended up having life-saving surgery to remove it.

"I was in a bad way but I am really lucky to still be here.”

Ever since, Ms Sugden has carried out several fundraising activities for GNAAS including organising triathlon events and last month she took the plunge and swam Ullswater again, however she decided to switch it up by swapping her wetsuit for a bathing suit, also known as skins.

She said: “I had to keep telling myself to enjoy it you can't be competitive, and you've not got your wetsuit on.

“I'm pleased I did it in skins as now I never have to do it again.”

News and Star: Samantha Sugden (right) taking part in the Ullswater challengeSamantha Sugden (right) taking part in the Ullswater challenge

Ms Sugden managed to complete the swim in just over five hours and has since challenged herself to swim all the lakes in the Lake District and set up a JustGiving page to support GNAAS.

She said: “I wouldn't be here without their help, as is the case for many people in the area, who without their quick service there would be much more severe consequences due to the rural areas we live in.”

Ms Sugden has raised £550 so far and you can support her here.

Last year GNAAS had one of their busiest years on record, responding to 1,620 call-outs across the region.

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