SEEING feet surround him as he lay on the ground, Brian Hygate remembers very little else about being knocked off his bicycle.
In August 2012, Mr Hygate had been cycling home when he was hit from behind by a van on the A27.
Then aged 74, Mr Hygate of Village Road, Gosport, who has been cycling for 60 years, ended up having to learn to walk and cycle again.
He believes the work done by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance service saved his life.
Mr Hygate, a retired Royal Navy submariner and computer engineer, said: ‘I have been an enthusiastic cyclist since joining my first club in 1950.
‘I have toured and raced my bicycle here and abroad, at local and national level. On the day of the accident I had been returning from a 35-mile cycle ride.
‘I was hit by a van and just remember seeing people’s feet around me.’
Mr Hygate was flown to Southampton General Hospital having suffered a broken hip, broken pelvis, three broken vertebrae and cuts and bruises.
He spent seven weeks in Queen Alexandra Hospital, had a total hip replacement, and months of intensive physiotherapy, and is now able to walk and cycle again.
‘I have to acknowledge that the very prompt action of a paramedic, plus the rapid service provided by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight air ambulance, were instrumental in saving my life,’ added Mr Hygate.
‘To show my gratitude I am riding the Prudential London 100 miles event in August this year.’
His actions have been commended by John Perry, chief executive of the air ambulance service.
He said: ‘I hear stories of people who have been rescued by the air ambulance, people who feel indebted to our crew of for their dedication to saving lives.
‘Former patients often decide to raise money for us, and it is thanks to them that we are able to keep going.
‘But Brian’s story struck me in particular, partly because of the ordeal that he has been through, but primarily because of the challenge that he is undertaking.
‘I hope readers will be inspired by his story and consider showing their support for him in whatever way they can.’