World-renowned climber backs campaign for new hospital helipad in Sheffield

Johnny Dawes
Johnny Dawes
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A renowned British rock climber treated at a Sheffield hospital after a horror fall is giving his backing to a campaign to pay for a new helipad.

Johnny Dawes, from Sharrow, pledged his support during a visit to the Northern General Hospital to say thank you to medics who saved his leg.

He was climbing at Stanage Edge, Derbyshire, last February when he fell and suffered a serious open fracture.

The 51-year-old was airlifted to hospital and returned one year on to give his thanks and to find out about a campaign to pay for a new helipad directly outside the doors of the Northern General, which medics say will save valuable time when casualties need to be treated urgently.

Around £400,000 is still needed to pay for the new helipad, which will replace the existing one, which was built more than 20 years ago.

The current facility is located away from the hospital, meaning patients need an ambulance to drive them to the hospital doors.

Johnny, who has climbed all over the world, said: “I was at Stanage Edge trying to complete more routes using just my feet. There are more than 900 routes on Stanage and I’d done about 150 of them without using my hands.

“I’d climbed up about 15ft and was looking at where to go next but as I couldn’t go up or down I jumped off as I’d done hundreds of times before and from much higher spots.

“My foot must have slipped because my right leg took most of the impact.

“I heard bones breaking and saw bits of bone sticking out of my leg.

“The sound of breaking bones brought a friend running and we called the emergency services.”

Edale Mountain Rescue Team volunteers were first to arrive at the scene and carried him to an air ambulance.

“The next thing I remember is being in A&E where I felt very well taken care of. It was all done very swiftly and professionally and very soon I was in the operating theatre. They all did an amazing job.” Johnny added.

“A year on and you wouldn’t know I’d been so badly injured, just yesterday I was out climbing Mam Tor. I am so grateful to everyone and it was great to be able to meet and thank those who helped save my leg.

“Time is of the essence in dealing with accidents and that’s why I’m supporting this helipad appeal. If the bone had gone through an artery - the extra five minutes it takes to get from the current helipad up to A&E is time that I might not have had.

“This helipad will save time and that can make all the difference. It’s just fantastic that I got my leg back.”

Dr Howard Davies, who operated on Johnny, said: “It will be fantastic when the new helipad is in place as we will get casualties even faster and be able to do even more to help them.”

n To find out more about the appeal visit or call 0114 2711351.