Incredible and inspirational… the couple who lost their daughter in a riding accident have devoted their lives to raising thousands of pounds for Midlands Air Ambulance
Roger and Diane Cole are the perfect example of finding strength in terrible adversity. When their daughter Charlotte suffered a fatal horse riding accident in 2011, the couple’s world was turned upside down. Charlotte was airlifted to hospital by Midlands Air Ambulance and while their action proved unable to save the 24-year-old’s life, it bought precious time for Roger and Diane to say goodbye to their daughter. Since that tragic moment, Roger and Diane have devoted their lives to raising money for the air ambulance and over the last four years have collected thousands of pounds to help keep the vital emergency service in the air. The couple have always gone about their fund-raising mission in their own understated way. They don’t seek the limelight. Knowing they are really helping the cause is reward enough for these unsung heroes. But they couldn’t escape being the centre of attention when air ambulance chiefs decided to present them with the MMA’s coveted Special Recognition Award.
Roger and Diane run CK Racing selling equestrian clothing and merchandise to raise funds for the MAA and Racing Welfare. The business was originally started by Charlotte a year before she died. After the tragedy it became a fund-raising website for the charities. “The fund-raising provides us with the therapy we need,” said Diane. “We knew we needed to focus on something and because the air ambulance crew was so desperate to save Charlotte, we wanted to give something back. Charlotte will always be special to us and to see how other people have taken her into their hearts is amazing.” The three MAA helicopters cost £2 millon a year each to keep flying and the service depends on the public’s support and generosity to meet that target. The service also has a raft of celebrities such as Top Gear’s Richard Hammond, who get involved. But it’s ‘normal’ people like Roger and Diane who are crucial in keeping those rotor blades turning.
As a result of Charlotte’s accident, the couple are also big supporters of organ donation. Charlotte was on the donor register and her organs saved five lives. We’ll leave it to the MAA to sum up what makes Roger and Diane so special. The citation for their Special Recognition Award simply described the couple as “incredible people, an inspiration to many of us at the charity and the aircrew too”.