Hartlepool family set to take on swim challenge after dad’s cycling accident

Alastair MacKay with wife Avril.
Alastair MacKay with wife Avril.

A Hartlepool woman is getting set to take on an open water swimming challenge in support of the charities that helped her husband when he suffered brain damage in a cycling accident.

Avril Mackay and her daughter Ailsa Mackay, decided to enter the one mile swim at the Great North Swim on the weekend of June 8-10, after their husband and father, Alastair, 51, suffered serious injuries when his bicycle was involved in a collision near Windermere, in the Lake District.

Alastair MacKay with wife Avril and their two daughters Ailsa, 23, and Megan, 20.

Alastair MacKay with wife Avril and their two daughters Ailsa, 23, and Megan, 20.

Alastair, a retired detective constable at Northumbria Police, came off his bike near to the Windermere Ferry on the Swarey side of the lake.

He was put into an induced coma and airlifted to hospital by the Great North Air Ambulance and remained in a coma for almost two weeks.

After spending over six weeks on the neuro-surgical ward at the Royal Preston Hospital, Alastair was then transferred to the neuro-rehabilitation ward at James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, where he received intensive therapy for more than seven weeks.

Throughout this difficult time, Avril, Alastair and their two daughters Ailsa, 23, and Megan, 20, were supported by the charity, Headway, which provided support and information about brain injuries and the recovery process.

Alastair MacKay with wife Avril.

Alastair MacKay with wife Avril.

After being discharged from James Cook on Thursday, November 16, Alastair is continuing to recover at home.

Avril and her daughter decided to take on the swimming challenge along with Avril’s sister, Jayne, to thank Headway and the Great North Air Ambulance Service for saving Alastair’s life.

Avril, 53, said: “We had both been out cycling for the day and we were coming down the hill towards the ferry.

“I was in front of Alastair when all I heard was a bang I looked up the hill to see Alastair on the floor.

“He fell into the path of a mini bus that was coming up the hill.

“I do believe that if he had not been wearing his helmet, he would not be with us today.

“I want to raise money for both the air ambulance and Headway as both helped us through this horrific time after Alastair’s accident.

“If it was not for the GNAAS, Alastair would not have got to hospital quick enough to receive the urgent treatment he desperately needed.

“Having a brain injury is truly a massive life changing event not only for my husband but also for us as a family.  

“Headway have helped me understand how to help my husband and they have also helped me by being there answering questions I had.  

“It was very hard especially when we were living away from home, but the charities and my daughters have been such a great support to us both as I adjusted to being a carer.

“I don’t think any one can fully understand how something like this can impact your life unless they experience something very similar.

“Alistair is a very determined man and is getting better but it is a very slow process, but we have been positive from the very start.”

To enter the Great North Swim, visit: Greatswim.org/North