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Man who survived being hit by van thanks ambulance crew who saved his life

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A man who survived being hit by a van has been reunited with the ambulance crew who attended him in his hour of need.

Ashley Lovering, 64, from Swansea Marina, was involved in the freak accident which nearly claimed his life and left him in hospital for 16 weeks after he stumbled whilst out photographing trucks near the M4 at Morriston, Swansea.

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Last week, he was reunited in much happier circumstances with the team of paramedics and students who he considers saved his life.

Ashley said: “I’ve had a keen interest in transport all my life really.

“I was out taking pictures of trucks for my popular Facebook page and a friend of mine had phoned saying he was out with his new truck so I decided to head back to meet him.

“Instead of going around the road to my car I decided to walk down the bank and I think the ground crumbled a bit as I felt myself running all of a sudden.

“And down I went into the road and whack into the side of a Transit van.”

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After the impact, Ashley, a retired chauffer and British Steel worker, was awake but knew he was badly injured.

He continued: “Somebody had seen it and came along to ring an ambulance and police.

“My mobile phone in my pocket had dialled my friend back so he arrived and someone notified my wife who also came.

“I recall the ambulance staff coming, I think there were about seven of them in total, and I remember someone pulling my leg to get the bone back inside – that hurt.

“They must have given me something then as I saw my wife outside the ambulance as they took me in on the bed and the next thing I remember was waking up in hospital in Cardiff.”

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Ashley had ruptured two discs in his back, lacerated a kidney, bruised his bowel, had an open fracture to his femur and both his shoulders required extensive surgery with one being completely replaced and the other rebuilt with plates and pins.

He spent eight weeks in Cardiff’s University Hospital of Wales and a further eight weeks in Swansea’s Morriston Hospital receiving treatment and recovering.

He said: “I’ve been back home 15 weeks now and the physio comes to my house.

“I also go to the gym three times a week to do recovery work which helps me.

“I’ve managed to walk into town without crutches now which is about a mile and a half there and back.”

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For Ashley, this was the first time in his life he had been in an ambulance and the first time he’d been in hospital too.

“I wanted to meet and thank the ambulance crews as I was able to thank everybody in the hospital in person,” he said.

“The doctors, the nurses, the man who cleaned the room, the lady who made the coffee, everyone, but I never got to see the ambulance staff again.

“They were fantastic and they saved my life really.

“I’ve even written to the police to thank them for closing the road and making everything safe that day.”

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There were a total of six Welsh Ambulance Service staff and two student paramedics who attended Ashley that day due to the complexities of his injuries.

Paramedic Beth Hewes, 42 of Swansea, said: “Ashley’s accident happened on the main road leading to Morriston Hospital and luckily a Non-Emergency Patient Transport Service (NEPTS) crew were passing by and stopped to assist him and make the call.

“I was on duty in a rapid response vehicle that day with a student paramedic and we were heading back to base when the call came in and were the first emergency crew on scene.

“We were soon joined by an ambulance and a second ambulance to support us and convey the patient once we had him stable.”

Despite his injuries and the awful pain he was in, Beth was full of praise for Ashley’s calm nature.

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“He was the perfect patient really,” she said.

“He was very polite and even said thank you every time we gave him pain relief.

“We had had to call ahead to the trauma unit in Cardiff and also seek permission to administer further pain medications.

“Even with an open fracture in his leg he was saying the majority of the pain was in his shoulder.

“It was great teamwork and communication on this job and the NEPTS crew were a great help to us.

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“Everybody involved was fantastic and the police did a great job in making sure we were safe from traffic to work.”

Speaking of the reunion, Ashley said: “It was a really lovely day and I ended up crying.

“It was so nice to meet everyone who helped me and be able to thank them properly.

“I had a friend of mine who runs a diecast truck company make them a model ambulance each to keep as a token of my thanks.”

Beth added: “It was a very humbling meeting and really, really nice.

“I’ve been a paramedic 15 years now and I’ve never met a patient afterwards.

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“It was very emotional but once we all got chatting it was lovely.

“I know myself and the other crews and students will all treasure the model ambulances he had made for us and that was a lovely touch.

“We all wish him very well in the future.”

(All images: Wales Ambulance Trust)

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Museums

Dream role for Egypt Centre’s new head

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A childhood visit to a museum not only triggered Ken Griffin’s lifelong passion for Egyptology, it has also led to him landing his perfect job.

He has just been appointed curator of the Swansea University’s award-winning Egypt Centre and is now in charge of its unique collection of antiquities.

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Belfast-born Dr Griffin says he was captivated by Egyptology after a trip to Ulster Museum when he was six.

“They have a mummy on display called Takabuti, and I used to get my dad to take me there every Sunday. I wanted to know more about the country, and I finally went there on my 16th birthday. That really cemented the idea of doing Egyptology, I was totally obsessed,” he said.

Dr Griffin started volunteering at the museum while he was a first year Egyptology student back in October 2000. After finishing his degree, he went on to become a Saturday workshop assistant while studying for his MA and PhD in Egyptology.

After a spell as a lecturer, he hit the headlines when he discovered a depiction associated with the pharaoh Hatshepsut – one of just five women to have ruled ancient Egypt – on object he had taken out of the storeroom for a handling session.

He said: “This job is fantastic and often there are discoveries every day. We have about 6,000 objects in total, but we only have room for about a third of our collection to be on display. I have seen every object but often you see something you haven’t spotted before; particularly as new technology becomes available.”

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Dr Ken Griffin in the Ulster Museum alongside the mummy Takabuti, the exhibit that triggered his interest in Egyptology. (Image: Swansea University)

Back in 2020, three of the museum’s mummified animals were examined using X-ray micro CT scanning, which generates high-resolution 3D images. The process provided unprecedented detail about the animals’ lives – and deaths – more than 2,000 years ago.

During his time at the museum Dr Griffin has been actively involved in teaching Egyptology through the University’s adult education programme and he is passionate about ensuring the museum’s collection is as accessible as possible.

Next month he will oversee the installation of a new display case which will also create a temporary exhibition space to be used by Swansea University students.

Already a favourite destination for schools, the museum hosts regular workshops and events but when the pandemic forced it to close its doors, Dr Griffin set up virtual courses via zoom.

“We weren’t open to the public at all for 18 months and the gift shop and schools are usually our main source of income. But the online teaching really took off and over the two years we were able to bring in £50,000 of essential funds through that.

“They will definitely continue. Some of the online courses have been attended by 180 people whereas if I held them here it would be a maximum of 15. It has been an unbelievable success.

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“Attendees have come from more than 50 countries in six continents – we haven’t had anyone join us from Antarctica yet!”

Dr Griffin also emphasised the continuation of the museum’s traditional activities, assisted by its band of more than 100 dedicated volunteers, and his desire to get more students, in particular, through its doors.

Another of his long-term aim is for the Centre to twin with a museum in Egypt to exchange ideas and knowledge.

He added: “I first came here as student and I have really been part of the Egypt Centre ever since, it is a very special place. I wake up and look forward to coming to work every single day. It is always exciting.

“It is very rare for a curator of Egyptology post to come up so to get this job really does show that dreams can come true.”

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Lead image: Dr Ken Griffin among exhibits in the storeroom of Swansea University’s Egypt Centre. (Image: Swansea University)

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Morriston

New regional centre at Morriston Hospital to treat lung conditions given go-ahead

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photo of doctor holding x ray result

Plans for a new multi-million pound Adult Thoracic Surgical Centre for South Wales can go ahead at pace following a major boost from Welsh Government.

The new centre, to be based at Morriston Hospital, Swansea, will treat lung cancer patients and others who need surgery for a range of chest conditions.

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It will be able to operate on an increased number of patients, potentially upwards of 20% more, and will be the third largest centre in the UK.

Following extensive public consultation in 2018, it was agreed that the new centre will provide a single service for South Wales for residents living in the Swansea Bay; Hywel Dda, Cwm Taf Morgannwg; Aneurin Bevan, Powys and Cardiff and Vale Health Board areas. The centre is expected to be open within the next three to five years.

Patients will be treated as much as possible within their local health board area, only having to travel to the Morriston centre for pre-admission assessment and the surgery itself.

The endorsement of the proposal by the Minister for Health and Social Services, Eluned Morgan will enable the next key stage – the development of detailed plans – to now get underway.

Siân Harrop-Griffiths, Swansea Bay University Health Board’s Director of Strategy and project lead, said: “Developing this scheme and getting the agreement of all the clinicians and organisations across South Wales has been time consuming and complex.

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“But we are delighted that this endorsement by the Minister means we can now take this work forward at pace to provide better thoracic surgical services for everyone across South Wales.”

Malgorzata Kornaszewska, Consultant Thoracic Surgeon at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Clinical Lead for the South Wales Adult Thoracic Surgical Services Programme said: “The new centre will be a centre of excellence with access to modern technology, and will be able to offer a comprehensive, modern, timely and high standard service to our patients.

“It will also create an excellent opportunity for teaching, training and research. This is an exciting time for the thoracic teams and Welsh thoracic patients.”

The South Wales Adult Thoracic Surgery Centre will standardise the delivery of these services across South Wales, improving the long-term sustainability of the service.

Having the specialist service in one dedicated centre will improve equity of access and patients’ experiences, and most importantly provide better health outcomes.

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The single site thoracic surgery centre will be designed in line with best practice and the recommendations of various reviews and consultation processes.

As a centre of excellence, it will provide dedicated thoracic surgery to meet national standards, enabling sub-specialisation of surgeons, which in turn will enable a higher standard of complex surgical procedures to be performed.

All health boards in South Wales, led by Swansea Bay UHB, have worked together alongside the Welsh Ambulances Services Trust and community health councils to develop and agree a plan to develop this new unit at Morriston Hospital.

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Morriston

Carpenter still at work after nearly slicing off his fingers says thanks to Morriston Hospital

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A retired carpenter who almost sliced off his fingers is still crafting away in his workshop thanks to the skill of Morriston Hospital staff.

Colin Taylor was working on turning a piece of wood into a teapot-shaped plant potholder when his wood cutter slipped and went into his hand.

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But despite slicing two fingers through to the bone, he is not just busy in his garden workshop but has also rediscovered his artistic skills as a way of thanking hospital staff.

The 73-year-old said: “I had put the wood in a vice and started shaping it with an electric cutter. I had a new blade which was able to cut everything including metal.

“It had gone well, when I had an itch on my nose and went to scratch it. I took my hand off the cutter and it cut across the timber and across my hand.

“There was blood spurting up in the air. I knocked the cutter off immediately, and my wife called my daughter who is a good first aider. She came up and my fingers were hanging off. I’d damaged them all, but particularly my middle and index finger, and had severed two tendons.

“My daughter took me to Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr but they contacted Morriston Hospital who told me to come down straight away.

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“From the moment I went in it must have been the best treatment in my life. The people were so nice and courteous. I was seen to first by a young lady who cleaned me up, and then the doctor came and took a look at it and said I’d have to have an operation.

“They injected my finger and the operation didn’t take too long, and I went home and my left hand was in a plaster for in six weeks. The surgeon fixed the tendons.

“It is not 100%, but it is what it is. I have got to get on with it. It’s a bit stiff in the morning and I can’t bend my middle or index finger like I used to.”

The grandfather of three has since produced a couple of paintings which he has presented to staff at Morriston Hospital by way of thanks.

He added: “I did some painting a long time ago. I always enjoyed painting and carpentry, although I know I’m no Picasso.

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“But the people in hospital were so good to me I just wanted to do something to thank them.

“I’m not surprised the NHS has such a good reputation with people like that working there.”

Specialist hand physiotherapist Iona Davies added: “Following surgery and initial assessment at Morriston Hospital, Mr Taylor was able to access our specialist hand therapy services virtually, at a time when local therapy services were constrained due to Covid.

“This eliminated the need for him to travel from Tredegar, where he lives and cares for his disabled wife.

“He has been dedicated to his rehabilitation and exercises, and as a consequence has been able to achieve his treatment goals, returning to woodwork and painting. The outcome following such an injury is dependent as much on patient’s motivation and commitment as it is on surgical skill and therapy input.

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“We were delighted to receive his gift.”

Lead image: Colin and daughter Heather with the painting of Morriston Hospital (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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