Pool marathon boosts lifesaver charity

IT WAS a marathon effort but after 15 hours of playing pool a group of men have raised more than £1,000 for a charity which saved their friend's life.

IT WAS a marathon effort but after 15 hours of playing pool a group of men have raised more than £1,000 for a charity which saved their friend's life.

The eight men decided to do the fundraiser to thank the East Anglian Air Ambulance team who saved their friend Mark Watson after he almost died in an horrific accident with a combine harvester and a diesel tractor.

His friend Tom Thorpe, 21, from Crescent Road, Ipswich, organised the event at Riley's pub in Princes Street, Ipswich last Saturday.

Mr Thorpe said: “It was extremely difficult. We all got to about 6pm and that's when it started to hit us hard.

“The standing up and bending over made our backs ache, and boredom also started to creep in, but then we found the juke box and that gave us a good lift.

“Everyone around us was donating very heavily into the bucket, which was good. I can't complain at all, it was really tough but I think every single one of us enjoyed it.”

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Riley's offered to let the players have four tables from 9am until midnight free of charge, and even gave them free buffet food and drinks to keep them going.

The men played about 300 games and raised more than £600 for the Air Ambulance - which Barclays Bank, who Mr Thorpe works for, has offered to double to make £1200.

Mr Watson, 22, from Otley, was working at a farm near Norwich in September 2004 when he was pincered between the two farm vehicles as the combine harvester reversed to refuel, causing life-threatening injuries.

The Air Ambulance arrived quickly and Mr Watson was able to slide himself free and walk onto it before collapsing. He was later told he would have died without immediate medical attention.

He has since made a miraculous recovery, and has been playing football as a goalkeeper for a year and a half, despite being told at the time of the accident he would not be able to.

He was also able to return to work two-and-a-half years after the accident, and is training as an apprentice mechanic after spending time working on cars while recovering from his injuries.

n. Has the charity helped you? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Fact File: The East Anglian Air Ambulance

The service operates 365 days a year across Norfolk, Suffolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire

The charity was established in 2000 with one helicopter, and a second was bought in 2007

It costs £3 million per year to keep the two ambulances operating and provide all their advanced medical equipment

On average, the Air Ambulance is called out to four incidents every day

More than half the incidents the Air Ambulance attends are road traffic collisions.