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A woman will take on a fundraising challenge at next year's Great North Swim in support of the charities that aided her husband when he suffered brain damage in a road traffic accident in the Lake District.

Avril Mackay and her daughter Ailsa Mackay, from Hartlepool, decided to enter the one mile swim at the Great North Swim on the weekend of 8-10 June after their husband and father, Alastair suffered serious injuries when his bicycle collided with a mini bus in Windermere.

Alastair, a retired detective constable at Northumbria Police, came off his bike near to the Windermere Ferry on the Swarey side of the lake.

The impact of the collision has left him with brain damage following the serious head injuries he sustained as a result of the accident.

Alastair was put into an induced coma and airlifted to hospital by the Great North Air Ambulance and remained in a coma for almost two weeks.

After spending over six weeks on the Neuro-Surgical ward at the Royal Preston Hospital, Alastair was then transferred to ward 26 neuro-rehabilitation ward at James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough, where he received intensive therapy for over 7 weeks.

Throughout this difficult time, Avril, Alastair and their two daughters Ailsa, 23, and Megan, 20, were supported by the charity Headway, who provided support and information about brain injuries and the recovery process to the family.

Finally, having only being discharged from James Cook Hospital on 16 November, Alastair is continuing to recover at home and to come to terms with his injury.

Avril and her daughters decided they wanted to fundraise to thank Headway and the Great North Air Ambulance Service for their hard work in saving her husband's life and decided to take on an open water swim for the first time with sister and aunt, Jayne.

Avril, 53, said: “We had both been out cycling for the day and we were coming down the hill towards the ferry. I was in front of Alastair when all I heard was a bang I looked up the hill to see Alastair on the floor.

“He fell into the path of one of the Mountain Goat mini buses that was coming up the hill from the ferry.

“I do believe that if he had not been wearing his helmet, he would not be with us today.

“I want to raise money for both the air ambulance and Headway as both helped us through this horrific time after Alastair's accident.

“If it was not for the GNAAS, Alastair would not have got to hospital quick enough to receive the urgent treatment he desperately needed.

“Having a brain injury is truly a massive life changing event not only for my husband but also for us as a family.

“Headway have helped me understand how to help my husband and they have also helped me by being there answering questions I had.

“It was very hard especially when we were living away from home, but the charities and my daughters have been such a great support to us both as I adjusted to being a carer.

“I don't think any one can fully understand how something like this can impact your life unless they experience something very similar.”

Avril, Ailsa and Jayne will join thousands of participants across the Great North Swim weekend in June, which is Europe's biggest open water swimming event, taking place on the shores of Lake Windermere.

There is a range of distances for all abilities, ranging from 250 metres to a marathon 10k swim.

Alastair has made a significant recovery so far but still struggles with some daily tasks. However, Avril is confident that he will learn to do things again with the right support.

She added: “Alistair will be there on the day of the Great North Swim to support myself, Ailsa and my sister in our challenge.

“I have a lot of support from my family. My sister is also joining me to help raise money for these two charities despite her fear of deep water and the fact she has never swam out of her depth in open water before.

“I have wanted to do the swim for a few years as it is such a beautiful area and well-known event.

“I think through my husband having his accident so close to the lake made me want to participate in this even more. I felt it would help make something good out of what had happened to him by raising money for the organisation's that helped him. “

Alistair is a very determined man and is getting better but it is a very slow process, but we have been positive from the very start.”

To enter the Great North Swim, visit: