3 Feb 2022
Mortlake Crematorium – run by Superintendent Natasha Bradshaw in West London – chose London’s Air Ambulance Charity as its 2021 Charity of the Year and donated a gift of £15,000.
Natasha was aware of London’s Air Ambulance, however the life-saving work the charity does on a daily basis was more clearly put into focus a few years ago, when her son was on a school trip in Richmond Park.
During the trip, a falling tree branch weighing over 300kg fell, crushing one of the school children, Sacha. Sacha suffered severe head injuries and broke his leg, arms, pelvis, back and five of his ribs. London’s Air Ambulance trauma team were dispatched to the scene where they provided critical care, including anesthetising Sacha. They then flew him to The Royal London Hospital for emergency treatment on his traumatic brain injury. Without the help of London’s Air Ambulance, Sacha wouldn’t be here today. Thankfully, he is, and he recently visited Mortlake Crematorium to receive the gift with London’s Air Ambulance’s Pilot, James Hamilton.
“That morning we could never have conceived that such a terrible accident could occur or that Sacha would be saved by such a dedicated, vital team. We will never forget the change and impact London's Air Ambulance had on that day and it is so wonderful to be able to celebrate with Natasha and the crematorium” said Joanna, Sacha's mum.
“I have followed London’s Air Ambulance ever since Sacha’s accident. His parents always say how they never imagined needing the helicopter,” said Natasha. “When I came across the amazing Picking up the Pieces podcasts, it really hit home listening to Jakki and Laura.”
In our podcast series, Myleene Klass meets those who have been touched by London’s Air Ambulance Charity to hear what happens when patients and loved ones have to adjust after their lives have been torn apart. One episode, with a focus on bereavement, featured Jakki and Laura: two mothers of teenage boys – George and Dan – who both died in particularly traumatic circumstances.
“What was so key about that podcast was how it highlighted the amazing work London’s Air Ambulance Charity does in giving people time to say goodbye. Sacha’s story is a great one in the sense that he’s lived, sadly not everyone does. But in some of those cases you’ve been able to give people time to get to hospital, say goodbye and sometimes become donors. That’s invaluable to so many people,” said Natasha. “London’s Air Ambulance makes so much of a difference, and that’s why Mortlake Crematorium nominated you to be our Charity of the Year 2021. We also like to work with charities that have a local impact, and you’ve had a huge impact in our community, especially with Sacha.”
Previous bereavement charities that have been nominated include Sands Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity, Princess Alice Hospice and Good Grief Trust. “We like to select charities that help people with bereavement in the local community. Here at the crematorium we run pop-up grief cafes, where anyone can come and enjoy some cake, knowing it is a safe space to talk if they want to.
“We’re proud to be a key part of the community, and are proud to have London’s Air Ambulance Charity in our community too.”
The £15,000 donation came from a national scheme in which metals that remain after the cremation process are collected and recycled. “With the families’ permission, metal supports – such as hip replacements, metal knees, pins that have pieced people back together after an accident – can be recycled; enabling us to donate much-needed funds to charity,” explained Natasha. “This is an annual process and we’re so glad to be able to share it with many amazing charities.”
London’s Air Ambulance Charity is incredibly grateful to Mortlake Crematorium for the nomination and gift. Thanks to organisations like Natasha’s, we can continue to provide cutting-edge care at the roadside and save more lives in London.