Cyclist who was hit by lorry in Old Street will swim English Channel with paramedic who saved her life

PUBLISHED: 15:25 09 September 2019

Lucas Cumiskey

Victoria Lebrec, who lost a leg when she was hit by a truck in 2014. Picture: Victoria Lebrec


A woman who was run over by a HGV driver while cycling in Old Street will this week swim the English Channel with two hero London’s Air Ambulance medics – including the paramedic who helped save her life.

Rob Willmore is swimming the English Channel to raise cash for London Air Ambulance. Picture: SuppliedRob Willmore is swimming the English Channel to raise cash for London Air Ambulance. Picture: Supplied

Cycle safety campaigner Victoria Lebrec lost her leg after the lorry smashed into her at the junction of Clerkenwell Road in 2014, and she says her life was saved by the air ambulance (LAA).

Bill Leaning, a paramedic who treated Ms Lebrec after her accident, has learnt to swim especially for the occasion – the team hopes to raise GBP25,000 for the LAA, which is a charity. Writing on her JustGiving page, Ms Lebrec said her “broken little body” will attempt to complete a “foolish and ill advised physical feat”. She added: “London’s Air Ambulance saved my life and it brings me a lot of joy to be in a position where I am fit enough (sort of) to raise some money for them. […] I would be dead if it wasn’t for them.

But I also wouldn’t be as happy as I am now without them. “Please give if you can. I know we have asked a lot over the years since the crash, but they continue to save people just like me every day, and they need money to do it.”

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Ms Lebrec and her five teammates will take turns swimming for an hour at a time while the others rest in a boat.

They are due to embark any day now, weather and tides permitting. They will be joined by Highbury man Dr Rob Willmore, an honorary fellow at The Institute of Pre-Hospital Care at LAA. He works at Whipps Cross University Hospital in Leyton.

Rob told the Gazette: “It’s a mammoth undertaking and I have never done anything quite like this before. I think it’s the scariness of doing it in the open ocean with nothing around you in the middle of the night. Swimming in the dark isn’t something you usually do.

I think it’s the unknown.” His biggest fears are swimming into a shoal of jellyfish and being too cold. “There are specific rules when you swim the Channel,” he said, “you have to wear Speedos to make it more of a challenge – no wetsuits.”

The team hope to reach France in about 15 hours.

You can sponsor Victoria here and Rob here.

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