Matthew Martin is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

Rider 'eternally grateful' to her rescuers (+video)

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On Friday, February 12, Laura Stuart lay in the dirt in Rotorua's Whakarewarewa Forest waiting for help to arrive after a serious mountain biking accident.

Yesterday, she was reunited with the people that helped save her from even worse injury in the form of paramedics from Rotorua's St John Ambulance.

The 29-year-old was told she was unlikely to walk again after breaking her neck and back, but she continues to persevere and is making slow but sure progress to return to a normal life.

She said it was an emotional experience speaking to the people she last saw on that fateful day.

"It was really good to finally get to say 'thank you', it was really nice to see them again.

"It was amazing to hear about the whole operation and the details and co-ordination of the teams that went into my rescue effort, like getting the helicopter in before darkness, plus the difficulty of finding me in the forest.

"If it weren't for them things would have been quite different in terms of my recovery."

She said St John were often forgotten by the people they had helped, but said she would be eternally grateful to her rescuers on that day - Steve Brake, Grant Martin, Trudy Haringa and Mike France.

"They are a great bunch of people. The helicopter pilot did a great job too. I really want to give back to them, and will be donating something. My partner asked 'how much' - I'm not really sure yet, but I'm forever indebted to them, you can't put a price on your life," she said.

St John paramedic Mike France said it was nice to catch up and Ms Stuart was an inspiration.

"It it were me I think I'd be in a pretty dark place. But Laura's attitude after such a life changing experience is amazing. We do not do this job for the glory and it means a lot to us she came in to say thanks."

Mr France said he would not forget that callout. "It was a really unusual job, difficult for a number of reasons, but it's great to see her pushing on with life and looking at new things to do every day."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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