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Students on their marks for charity that helped save lecturer’s life

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Published on 03 May 2023

Medical students with Alice
Medical students with Alice

A University of Sunderland lecturer who suffered life-threatening injuries in a road traffic accident as a child says she is “deeply moved” a group of her students are raising money for the charity which helped save her life. 

Alice Roberts, who was 14 at the time, was walking alongside her horse when they collided with a car in Lancashire in September 2010. The collision caused the horse to fall on top of Alice, breaking her pelvis, rupturing her diaphragm and damaging multiple internal organs.

Alice was airlifted to the Royal Preston Hospital to be stabilised before being transferred to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital where she spent a total of 22 hours in surgery. 

“I was ventilated for the first week, so I have no memories of that time or even the few days before the accident,” Alice explained. 

“The earliest memory I have of intensive care was asking my parents why I was there, before promptly telling them I wanted to ride again.

“I spent three months in a wheelchair but was back on a horse less than 24 hours after I was told I could walk again.”

It was a long road to recovery – but without the help of the North West Air Ambulance (NWAA), Alice believes it would have been a very different story. 

Alice, who lectures in Anatomy at the University’s School of Medicine, said: “Without the expert pre-hospital care and the fast transition to a major trauma centre by the NWAA, I wouldn’t be here today.

“The NWAA really are lifesavers and I intend to raise awareness of the amazing work they do, and money for them, for the rest of my life.”


After hearing Alice’s story, six first year University of Sunderland medical students were inspired to enter this year’s Sunderland City Half Marathon to raise money for the NWAA. 

Emma Ratcliffe is one of them. She said: “This is a charity very close to our medical school’s heart.

“The NWAA performed life-saving pre-hospital treatment on Alice, who told us there is no doubt that without their help she wouldn’t be here today.

“As soon we heard Alice’s story we wanted to raise money for this amazing charity, so that we could help the NWAA save more lives.”

Emma will be running the half marathon, which is 13.1 miles, this Sunday (May 7) alongside fellow medical students Rosie Harris, Ella Gregory, Philippa Halse, Holly Diamond and Megan De-Alker. 

Alice, 27, who is originally from Lancashire but now lives in Sunderland, said: “I am deeply moved that a group of my students want to raise money for this charity, and I will be cheering them on as they run round our wonderful city.  

As the NWAA receives no funding from the government or NHS, they are completely reliant on public donations. Because of their fundraising, these students are helping to save lives long before they qualify as doctors.”

To make a donation visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/medicsrun4nwaa