Dave Tighe in paragliding action before the Langdale accident

Dave Tighe in paragliding action before the Langdale accident

A man who nearly lost his life in a paragliding crash in the Lake District is planning to run a half-marathon to raise cash for his rescuers.

Dave Tighe suffered horrendous injuries when he hit the ground at Tarn Crag in Great Langdale in May last year.

He then fell more than 80ft down the crag, sustaining life-threatening injuries.

The 42-year-old father of two is going to attempt the run to help Langdale Ambleside Mountain Rescue Team and the Great North Air Ambulance ‘while he still can’.

The Preston-based flier has reduced mobility after the incident, which left him with a broken spine, chest injuries and a punctured chest wall and collapsed lung, head injuries and cranial bleeding, double vision due to nerve injury and memory loss.

He has also had a bone implant on his ankle to aid his ability to walk.

Members of the mountain rescue team worked with air ambulance crew to save the Preston man’s life, and he was airlifted to Great Langdale by an RAF Sea King and transferred to the air ambulance which flew him to the major trauma centre in his home town.

Mr Tighe said: “I feel very lucky and so glad to be alive. I know I owe a great deal to a few walkers on the mountain, the crew and setup of the Great North Air Ambulance, Langdale Ambleside Mountain Rescue Team and the additional RAF helicopter with flight crew.

The air ambulance and RAF Sea King at the scene in Great Langdale. Photo: GNAAS

The air ambulance and RAF Sea King at the scene in Great Langdale. Photo: GNAAS

“I received some amazing surgical and overall care from my spinal surgeon and superb help from my own GPs. Mostly I have to thank my fiancée, friends and family for the continued support and understanding throughout.

“I owe it to all the people involved to recover myself to a better condition.”

Mr Tighe spent three months in a rigid full back and chest brace and has extensive metalwork supporting his damaged spine.

“Although still in daily pain and over 3cm shorter, I managed to fight my way through the longest medical assessment of my life around six months after the incident,” he said. “I’ve now returned to the job I love as a medic in the North Sea. It’s nine months since the accident and it feels great to be back. Although I live so far away in Lancashire, my employers and workmates have helped with support that was both emotional and even financial.

“I’ve been in the gym a handful of times in the past few months to stretch and try to regain some shape and support in my back muscles. It’s helped a lot, but has not been easy.”

He said he is now attempting to run. Mr Tighe said: “I’ve not really run anything since I left the Army around 18 years ago.

An x-ray of Dave Tighe's spine

An x-ray of Dave Tighe's spine

“Running is one thing that really hurts. The mechanics of having five spinal vertebrae that are now internally scaffolded together with screws and bars isn’t really a good feeling. I’m told that taking up running in the long term is not something that will benefit me due to the impact and lack of flexibility and shock absorption.

“To that end I’m thinking: I need to run something now or never, then close this book.”

He has entered the Village Bakery Wrexham Half Marathon in north Wales, and will be joined on the run by his wife-to-be Karin Delday, whom he plans to wed in May, a year after his near-fatal accident.

Both he and Ms Delday have started the appeal with £200 each of their own money. Mr Tighe has also paid his event entry fee and accommodation costs.

He said he will use the run for the challenge and to help him get fit and because he may not be capable of doing it in years to come.

Mr Tighe said: “I’ve never attempted anything like it and have not really been fit enough to run this kind of distance for at least the last 15 years.

“I started training a few days ago and will complete this half marathon in less than four weeks’ time, even if it ends with a crawl.

“The GNAAS and LAMRT provide amazing support and rescue many people on a daily basis. I never knew how busy they were till after last May. Many involved are volunteers and the whole system relies completely on donations.”

He praised his fiancée and medical staff for helping him get back on his feet after the accident.

“This whole incident started as a nightmare, but to concentrate on the positive I know our relationship is now even deeper and stronger as a result,” he said. “During my first week in the hospital, Karin arrived fairly early in the morning and found me unwell, both physically and mentally.

The incident happened on Tarn Crag, above Great Langdale

The incident happened on Tarn Crag, above Great Langdale

“I was completely drained after days of being unable to move, along with an inability to eat, drink and sleep through the pain. It was her intervention, actions and drive that managed to get me back to where I should have been.

“It wasn’t long before a critical care team arrived, scanned, examined, fed and watered me intravenously. Before they all knew it I’d found my determination again. I was then supremely confident that as soon as I could push myself to physically stand, I would walk myself out of the hospital and could recover at home under my own driven pace.

“I think one of the hardest things I found about my recovery was having to slow down and accept a period of immobility.

“I have an amazing respect for the spinal surgeon. As well as being a pleasure to meet and talk to, he has treated, guided and advised me in a way that was reassuring and inspiring.

Dave Tighe will be joined on the half-marathon by his fiancée Karin

Dave Tighe will be joined on the half-marathon by his fiancée Karin

“Karin and I like to keep active and love the outdoors. My years of flying lead on from years of skydiving. It’s been a great part of my life but is not something that I’m going to be allowed to return to. As well as the medical side, it’s mostly been decided by a family vote.

“However, there are plenty of great outdoor group and social activities that I’m determined to enjoy from now on.”

The Wrexham half-marathon will take place on 14 February. Proceeds from Mr Tighe’s challenge will be split equally between the Great North Air Ambulance and Langdale Ambleside Mountain Rescue Team.

Nick Owen, Langdale Ambleside MRT team leader said: “The team is very grateful for Dave’s fundraising efforts, but particularly we’re delighted to hear that Dave is recovering and is now fit enough to undertake this effort.

“Dave’s rescue was a demanding one, involving ourselves and GNAA, and shows how important teamwork is in what we do.

“We wish Dave well in this venture and hope his recovery continues apace.”

Grahame Pickering, chief executive at GNAAS said: “We are thrilled at Mr Tighe’s fundraising efforts and inspired by his story.

“His rescue involved many different agencies, each with their own skillset, to provide the best outcome for the patient.

“We want to wish him the best of luck for his run and thank him for his support. If he’d ever like to visit our Langwathby airbase in the future then we’d happily welcome him.”

So far, more than £1,200 has been raised, topping Mr Tighe’s original target of £1,000. Donations can be made on the Charities Trust website.

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