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Ipswich paramedic hailed as ‘legend’ by speedway rider Lewis Kerr whose life he saved

PUBLISHED: 15:16 07 September 2015 | UPDATED: 09:44 08 September 2015

Lewis Kerr. Picture: Ian Burt

Lewis Kerr. Picture: Ian Burt

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An Ipswich paramedic has been hailed as an “absolute legend” by a speedway rider whose life he saved following a crash five weeks ago.

Paramedic Jason Gillingham walks back with Gino Manzares, after his fall in heat twelve of the Ipswich V Somerset (League Cup) at Foxhall Stadium, Ipswich, in April. Manzares' team mate Cameron Heeps is on the left.
Picture: Steve WallerParamedic Jason Gillingham walks back with Gino Manzares, after his fall in heat twelve of the Ipswich V Somerset (League Cup) at Foxhall Stadium, Ipswich, in April. Manzares' team mate Cameron Heeps is on the left. Picture: Steve Waller

Jason Gillingham, of the East of England Ambulance NHS Trust, has been a familiar face at speedway meetings in Ipswich and East Anglia for many years.

Mr Gillingham, a Senior Locality Manager for the East Suffolk area, was at Peterborough when Lewis Kerr sustained serious head injuries when hitting a fence while competing in the Premier League Fours for Newcastle Diamonds on August 2.

Kerr, who also rides for King’s Lynn Stars, was treated at the track by Mr Gillingham before being put into an induced coma after being flown to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.

The 25-year-old, who has since recovered enough to leave hospital, has expressed his gratitude in a message of social media site Twitter after he gave Mr Gillingham a framed signed photograph when the pair were reunited at the weekend.

The speedway rider tweeted: “Absolute legend this bloke. Jason was the paramedic at Pboro who saved my life five weeks ago. So awesome to see him today.”

Mr Gillingham, 44, has been a medic at speedway meetings since he was 11 years old when he joined St John Ambulance as a cadet.

He said: “Lewis hit the fence in a high-speed crash, was knocked unconscious and stopped breathing. I managed to get him breathing again by ventilating him and we called the air ambulance in.

“I didn’t do anything that any other paramedic wouldn’t have done. We use this sort of skill day in and day out.

“There are people doing it on the street now.

“I’m really, really happy Lewis is making a full recovery. That’s the most important thing.”

Kerr, who lives in Heacham, Norfolk, spent only 10 days in hospital recovering from his injuries before returning home.

His wife Jessie is due to give birth in the next few weeks.

Speaking after her husband left hospital she said: “He is absolutely amazing and doing so well but the brain will take nothing but time to heal now.”

Despite the injuries he sustained Kerr has said once he is fully fit he intends to return to riding.

Helping others is a common thread running through the Gillingham family.

Mr Gillingham’s father was a paramedic and his 14-year-old son is now a cadet with St John Ambulance.

Mr Gillingham, who has been in the ambulance service for 24 years, said: “It is a really good profession and if anyone thinks they would like to become a paramedic they should go to the the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust website. We are looking to recruit around 30 paramedics in Suffolk this year.”


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