Photo, L-R: Air ambulance paramedic Caroline Rose, Dr Leonieke Vlaanderen, Pilot Matt Tacon and Clive Collins
A big-hearted Sussex Christmas tree farmer has donated £300 to Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance.
Clive Collins, who runs Catsfield Christmas Tree Farm, decided that 2015 was the perfect year to “give something back” as it marked 25 years since he was airlifted to hospital by the charity helicopter.
Clive, 54, was working as a forestry contractor when he fell 30ft from a tree and broke his back. He was left paralysed from the waist down but, with the aid of a specially adapted tractor and a huge amount of determination, he launched his Christmas tree business a few years after the accident.
Now Clive has built a big following with customers travelling from around the region to buy his trees. He also supplies to prestigious hotels and businesses.
Clive explains: “The accident was horrific and I spent a long time in Stoke Mandeville Hospital. But while I was there I started thinking I could make something out of my situation and there was no reason why I couldn’t have dreams and goals like everyone else.
“I’d always wanted to grow Christmas trees before I was paralysed because I love working outside in the fresh air. I worked out how to set the farm up so that it was accessible for me.
“As a successful business I feel strongly that we should try and help others and ‘give something back’ which is why, as well as the air ambulance, this season we donated a record amount of funds to a number of charities including the Spinal Injuries Association, Dragonflies, Southern Disabled Ski and local PTAs.”
Clive donated 10p from the sale of every Christmas tree to raise funds for the air ambulance which relies almost entirely on public support.
He decided to support the air ambulance this year after learning that one of his customers was Pilot Captain Kevin Goddard.
Kevin said: “Clive’s farm is on my way to work and we’ve always bought our trees there since we moved to Bexhill. One of the things that attracted us is that you can walk round and select your tree.
“Clive then puts a ribbon around it and cuts it down on the day you pick it up. We usually get two, one for indoors and one for outside.”
Clive employs a team of 15 helpers at his 33-acre farm which produces about trees for clients including TV presenter Ray Mears.
Kent Air Ambulance was launched in December 1989, and has helped thousands of people and saved many lives after attending more than 25,000 call-outs over the last quarter of a century.
Clive was one of the charity’s first patients when he was airlifted to the Conquest Hospital following his accident in June, 1990, and later transferred to Stoke Mandeville Hospital.
Catsfield Christmas Tree Farm www.catsfieldchristmastreefarm.com is a long-established grower and retailer based in Catsfield, East Sussex. It has growing and supplying Christmas trees for more than 25 years.