Sometimes we should lift our eyes from the everyday and look upwards to the stars.
As Hereford Times readers know, I have many personal heroes. This column is about a very local hero, whose hand I very much look forward to shaking warmly--when social distancing permits, of course.
On Saturday 13th June my friend Stephen Machin was driving his sit-on tractor mower happily around his garden near Grosmont, when suddenly the vehicle slipped down a 12 ft bank and tumbled over, taking him with it. He found himself on his front, lying at the bottom of the culvert in a stream, with the mower pressing down on his back and forcing the air from his lungs.
He did not know it at the time, but the accident had broken several of his ribs, punctured one of his lungs and broken his wrist. He could not move and, despite struggling for almost an hour, he found it impossible to push the very heavy lawnmower off his chest.
In other circumstances he might easily have died, as he was seriously hypothermic and his breathing was becoming intermittent. But in Stephen's case a guardian angel was at hand, in the form of Nora McManus-Chambers, who lives on the property with her partner.
Nora heard that Stephen had been in an accident and came running to see what she could do. Whilst the emergency services were being called she climbed down into the culvert and somehow managed to lift the lawnmower up enough off his chest for him to continue to breathe. For forty minutes they remained like this, she keeping Stephen awake and telling him he would be all right, until eventually the emergency services arrived and Stephen was taken to Hereford Hospital.
Such was her effort that, in the act of saving Stephen, Nora—who is only 4ft 10in and in normal circumstances could never have moved the mower at all—ruptured her own shoulder and several ligaments and had extensive nettle rash, and she herself was taken to A&E for treatment.
Stephen is now convalescing, and so is Nora. Let us send them both our best wishes for a speedy recovery. And thank our lucky stars we still have unsung heroes in our country capable of such conspicuous acts of self-sacrifice and gallantry as Nora McManus-Chambers.
If anyone deserves wider recognition, even in this time of pandemic heroes, it is she.