Belfast Telegraph

Claudy farmer who survived slurry gas accident set to hold tractor run in bid to raise funds for Air Ambulance

George Haslett
George Haslett
George with Catherine Bell of Air Ambulance NI
Lauren Harte

By Lauren Harte

A farmer who almost died after being overcome by slurry gas nearly a year ago is raising funds for the NI Air Ambulance after it saved his life.

George Haslett (44) from Claudy collapsed while attempting to rescue lambs from a shed after he mixed hen slurry on June 16 last year.

His father Ronnie (79) found him lying outside the building with a lamb in his arms.

"I had lambs in the shed and I should've put them out before I mixed the slurry but the fumes got hold of me," Mr Haslett recalled.

It was the second time he had come close to losing his life on the farm - 38 years previously he nearly drowned after falling into the same slurry tank.

Following last year's accident doctors told his family his chances of his survival were slim.

Mr Haslett, who is married to Ashley (43) and has a son Matthew (15), was left with a brain injury, but has managed to walk and talk again after months of rehabilitation.

He said he is "thankful to be alive" and has described his survival as "a miracle".

"At the first MRI scan the doctors said there would be very little chance of improvement," he recalled.

"While you could say that I've proved them wrong since then, I believe it's God who has done that - but it has been a miracle.

"My speech was lost for a while but thankfully it has come back, although it's much slower.

"At the minute I'm using a walking aid and take my wheelchair if I'm going any long distance. I can walk but my balance and stability isn't great."

Emergency services, including the Air Ambulance, were scrambled to the scene that day, where medics worked on him before he was transferred to Altnagelvin Hospital by road.

Now he wants to show his gratitude to those who came to his aid by organising a charity tractor run on the eve of the first anniversary of his accident.

"I just want to give something back because, without a doubt, I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for the Air Ambulance," he explained.

"The health service kept me in hospital for nine months until I was discharged in March. Towards the end I was spending five days a week in hospital, learning to walk again and then getting home at weekends.

"I owe a big debt to the doctors and nurses for all the care I have received."

Mr Haslett worked as a contract manager in Castledawson before his accident and is determined to get his life back to normal again.

"It could have been death just as easy in my case and I have been fortunate in lots of ways," he said.

"My life has changed big time but I'm thankful to be alive.

"I'm optimistic about the future and I still believe that one day I'll be able to walk independently again. I lost my driving licence due to the injury but if doctors are happy with my recovery then I can apply for it again next month."

Mr Haslett's charity tractor run for NI Air Ambulance takes place on Saturday, June 15, with registration from midday and tractors setting off at 1pm sharp from Banagher Presbyterian Church.

The cost is £20 per tractor. Anyone who wishes to donate and cannot attend can visit https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/ashley-haslett

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