Twenty-three years after surviving a horrific road accident, which killed her youngster sister, Louise Cade was back in Thorney on Wednesday to talk to children at the Duke of Bedford Primary School about road safety.
Louise and her sister Sally were both pupils at the village school in 1994 when, at around 3:30pm on January 21, a terrible tragedy struck.
Louise and Sally were coming home on the school bus, on what had been just another normal school day. The family were farmers on New Cut. Six-year-old Sally and eight-year-old Louise got off the bus and waited for it to pull away. They held hands, looked both ways and were crossing the road when a car – seemingly out of nowhere – collided with them at high speed.
Louise’s family will never forget the sound of the loud bang the car made on impact.
“My mum got to us as soon as she could,” said Louise. “My sister Sally and I were lying in the road. My mother says Sally was smiling at her, whilst I was unconscious. She remembers noticing Sally had fluid coming out of her ear and she knew then it wasn’t a good sign.”
Back in the 1990s, doctors from around the Eastern Region volunteered their own time with Magpas Air Ambulance and as result; Dr Simon Richards, Dr Andrew Knights and Dr Nick Jackson (who all worked at Thorney Surgery) were called out to Sally and Louise.
They did everything they could to save the sisters’ lives – in what had become truly devastating circumstances. Sally was first to be taken to hospital in an ambulance (with a police escort), shortly followed by Louise, with the Magpas Doctors on board. Sally died several times en route, as did Louise, but the Magpas doctors repeatedly brought them back to life.
Once at the hospital, Sally and Louise were next to each other in the ICU being treated. Louise explains, “Sally was on a ventilator but sadly died from head trauma and organ failure two days later.”
Louise had to have gravel sucked out of her lungs (one of which collapsed), she suffered a serious head injury and multiple broken bones, as well as a stroke. She says, “My family tells me I died several times and was not expected to survive. The last time I died, everyone thought I had gone when suddenly I came back – gasping for air, trying to rip the ventilator tubes out of me.”
Her parents were told she would probably not walk and talk again, but Louise was determined to get back to normal. At Sally’s funeral, the family asked only for donations to be made to Magpas Air Ambulance and raised funds to pay for a defibrillator for the charity to use. Not long after, the same Magpas Doctors were called out to another little girl called Rebekah; the defibrillator bought by Louise’s family, was used by Magpas to save her life that day.
Louise has lost most of her memory of what life was like before the accident. She explains, “It’s really upsetting I can’t remember much about my best friend who I miss dearly – but the motivation, determination and strength to live on has made me the person I am today.”
Louise, who is 31, now feels ready to tell her story for the first time. She wants the memory of her sister Sally to live on, by raising awareness for Magpas Air Ambulance who came to her rescue all those years ago. As a result, Louise is to take part in the Magpas annual skydive this July.
Louise sums up why she’s embarking on such a courageous fundraising venture after everything she’s been through, “My sister means a great deal to me and I want to thank the charity that did so much for me on that terrible afternoon.
“Magpas Air Ambulance trains senior doctors and paramedics, from all around the UK, to bring the hospital to patients in life-threatening situations. I want to gather as many sponsors as I can and help Magpas give more lifesaving care to others in their time of need.”
Louise went back to The Duke of Bedford School to talk at the school assembly. Louise told her story, raising awareness about road safety and about the crucial lifesaving care Magpas Air Ambulance delivers, by land and air, in the East of England and beyond.
She summed up why this moment was so important to her, “I just want the children to take on the message of road safety and stay safe. I hope the children will take this on board and tell their parents – so that they can be more aware of children on the road.”
Louise was also joined by Dr Andy Lindsay of Magpas. He explained how they offer pioneering training to doctors and paramedics wishing to specialise in Pre-Hospital Emergency Medicine, for which the charity is renowned in the medical world. He also summarised how he felt about being part of today’s gathering, “It’s wonderful to see Louise looking so well. Spreading the word about road safety to young children is an incredible investment of our time. It’s great to capture their attention and a real privilege to talk to them”.
The link to Louise’s fundraising page is: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JumpingwithSally