Couple saved from car wreckage give thanks

JPCT 04-12-12 S12490011X John and Celia Whittome. Steyning -photo by Steve cobb
JPCT 04-12-12 S12490011X John and Celia Whittome. Steyning -photo by Steve cobb

A Steyning couple who were cut from a wrecked car last year are showing their appreciation to the firefighters that saved them.

Celie Whittome, 74, and her husband John have split a £400 donation between four charities including the Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance Trust and the Fire Fighters Charity as a big ‘thank you’ for their brave act.

The couple were driving near Handcross on October 4 2011 when they were involved in a car collision after which John was airlifted to hospital for immediate treatment.

Mrs Whittome’s injuries were so severe that she still suffers with them today.

She sustained a broken knee, cracked ribs, punctured lung and damage to two vertebrae which she admitted are not getting any better and cause her back pain.

She said: “My husband is OK. I’ve been suffering but I’m getting better.

“Having been an active person before the accident, I’ve had to quieten down.”

Mr Whittome recalled that fateful night.

He said: “I couldn’t get out of the car.

“I could only open the door a few inches.

“We were both in shock. I wounded my arm, but it has since healed.”

Mrs Whittome’s husband continued to speak of the effects that continue a year after the accident.

“She’s unfortunately more of a backseat driver now.

“She still hasn’t fully gotten her confidence back.

“She’s even extra conscious now when crossing the road.”

But, rather than letting their injuries get them down, the couple have presented four cheques, including one to the Firefighters Charity in support of the heroic team from Crawley White Watch.

Speaking of the team’s actions following the crash, Mrs Whittome said: “I was so appreciative of their kindness when we had the car crash.

“The support they gave while waiting for the ambulance was so wonderful and calming.

“I wanted to say thank you to them.”

Mrs Whittome explained her gratitiude for the high standard of professionalism under pressure.

She continued: “It’s the calmness of the people who rescue you – it’s uplifting to see them.

Mr and Mrs Whittome were involved in a collision with a Jeep on the road from Handcross to Turners Hill.

The roof of their devastated car had to be cut open in order to release the couple from the vehicle and into the hands of the paramedics.

Meeting the local heroes a year after the dreadful accident was an emotional experience for the couple, but this time under happier circumstances.

“It’s so nice to meet the people who rescued you face-to-face.

“I felt it was important to say how marvellous the crew were.

“They do a wonderful job with people in that situation.”

A spokesman for West Sussex Fire & Rescue described Mr and Mrs Whittome’s donation as ‘fantastic’.

They added: “It’s a great accolade for the crew in appreciation for what they have done.”

The Firefighters Charity offers rehabilitation, recuperation and support services to both serving and retired firefighters.

It runs three centres, including Marine Court in Littlehampton.

The charity costs £9million a year to keep afloat.