A Carterton grandmother who says she owes her life to Life Flight after surviving a near-lethal head injury last year will be at the forefront of the charity's annual street appeal in Wairarapa today.
Barbara Bilski was told by surgeons and doctors she was lucky to be alive after she was knocked to the ground by her ponies last March, cracking her skull and causing her brain to bleed.
She was alone at her property, dropping in and out of consciousness, for almost six hours after the injury.
"There's not a lot I can remember, but I can remember trying to get up and I couldn't, so I started to crawl to my house but must have dropped unconscious again," Mrs Bilski said.
This was at about 10.30am in the morning.
"I can remember the phone ringing at some stage and a lady called, wanting some pony rides because we have a Welsh pony stud here, and she said to me, oh you don't sound very good I'll ring you later.
"I should have said, help me."
It wasn't until 4pm that day that her grandchildren Kendra, 8, and Alyssa, 13, found her after school and ran to the neighbour for help, who called an ambulance and Life Flight was called.
"I think Kendra and Alyssa probably have worse memories than mine about that day because I can't really remember a lot, whereas my little one says to me, Nana, you were such a mess.
"I think seeing the helicopter fly off would have been quite traumatic for them. Five surgeons and doctors said to me they don't know how I survived."
Mrs Bilski went to see the Life Flight helicopter at Fagan Motors in Masterton last week with her grandchildren. She met with Dean Herrick of Carterton, who was the pilot of the Life Flight Westpac rescue helicopter that saved her last year.
"I said to Dean that I had always wanted a helicopter ride but I can't remember that one. I can only remember hearing the noise as it lifted up out of the paddock. It was so great that they came to Wairarapa last week and let the public see it all. I just needed to see how big it was inside and just picture where I was that day."
Mrs Bilski will be collecting Life Flight donations from 10am at Westpac bank in Carterton today and said she will try to collect as much as she can for the charity that saved her life.
"After all that has happened we contribute a regular $40 a month payment that goes to Life Flight. I just wish that everyone would do that, but unless you've actually had to use Life Flight you don't really appreciate how important their service is, and how amazing those people are.
"I'm very lucky. If they hadn't stopped over I wouldn't be here today."
For more articles from this region, go to Wairarapa Times-Age