Gladys Hogg, of Hornchurch, celebrates 90th with London Air Ambulance - 10 years after they saved her life

Gladys meets medical staff at the London's Air Ambulance helipad

Gladys meets medical staff at the London's Air Ambulance helipad - Credit: Archant

When Gladys Hogg was the victim of a hit-and-run at the age of 80, her family feared the worst.

Gladys returns to the helicopter in happier circumstances than her first visit

Gladys returns to the helicopter in happier circumstances than her first visit - Credit: Archant

Gladys, of Goldsmere Court, Hornchurch, had already undergone a triple heart bypass and now she had a broken leg, a collapsed lung and multiple fractures.

Gladys learns about the team's work

Gladys learns about the team's work - Credit: Archant

But a decade later, odds-defying Gladys is celebrating her 90th birthday – and to mark the occasion she had a special party at the London Air Ambulance helipad in Whitechapel.

Gladys with her family and Air Ambulance staff at the helipad

Gladys with her family and Air Ambulance staff at the helipad - Credit: Archant

Her last visit took place in rather less favourable circumstances – in 2003 she was airlifted there while medics fought to save her badly injured leg.

Sadly they were unable to stop it becoming infected, and the leg was amputated three days after the crash.


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Active Gladys had been on her way home from an Indian head massage class when the accident happened.

“The surgeon said her injuries were very severe and someone of that age may not survive the night,” remembered daughter Barbara Austin, 60.

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“But she did.”

And as her family soon discovered, it’s hard to keep a good woman down.

“I remember the consultant saying: ‘Did your mum walk before the accident?’” said Barbara, of Hillcrest Road, Hornchurch. “I said: ‘Walk? She used to do yoga and tai-chi!’

“The doctors were amazed by her. When she was in hospital, she was doing squats on one leg.

“She never complained and never cried. She’s definitely got that war spirit.”

The only thing Gladys felt was a bit rum was the fact she’d flown over London in the Air Ambulance and hadn’t got to look at the view. Hoping to make amends, Barbara asked the service whether it knew how a disabled woman could get to ride in a helicopter.

They didn’t, but they offered her an alternative – a trip to their helipad.

“We had some birthday cake there,” said Barbara. “She got to meet all the doctors and paramedics.

“They were still at work and they had to get the helicopter out while we were there – so we needed to evacuate the helipad.

“It was brilliant.”

Despite her reduced mobility, Gladys is taking everything in her stride.

“She was given a prosthetic leg and she learnt to walk again so quickly,” said Barbara. “The Long-Term Conditions Centre at Harold Wood said they had 20- and 30-year-olds who complained all the time and gave up, but she kept going.

“Mum’s thrilled because they gave the leg a sponge coating and shaped it for her.

“She’s always lifting up her trouser leg to show people her new ankle.”

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