A WOMAN has spoken of her "eternal gratitude" to an air ambulance crew who airlifted her to hospital from the scene of an horrific car crash, as she shaved her hair in aid of the charity.

Joanne McCorquodale, 38, of Willington, County Durham, joined friends and at the village's Queen's Head pub in raising £1,100 for the Great North Air Ambulance at the weekend.

The mother-of-three was a back seat passenger when she was seriously hurt in a head-on crash, between Willington and Binchester, in August 2003 .

Her ex-husband Barrie Rayner, who was driving, was slightly injured, while his father Norman Rayner suffered multiple injuries and died at the scene.

Miss McCorquodale said: "I am eternally grateful for what the air ambulance crew did for me. I was a back seat passenger in the car and had snapped by femur in two and tore the ligaments in my knee.

"I was sat in back of car with my hand on my ex-father-in-law's shoulder comforting him, but not realising that he was dying.

"I was in sheer pain and the adrenalin took over. I had to wait for the firefighters to cut me out of the wreckage. It wasn't until I got out that I realised just seriously injured I was."

She added: "An ambulance crew looked after me until the air ambulance arrived. They were all fantastic.

"It was one of the first times they had a doctor on board, too. The quality of care was just absolutely amazing.

"I was flown to the University Hospital of North Tees before being transferred to the James Cook where they operated on me and fitted a titanium pin – it was only removed five years ago."

The rescue was captured by a film crew doing a documentary and was later televised.

Miss McCorquodale said: "They contacted me and asked for my permission to use the footage. I had to consult the family and we agreed because we had got such fantastic service.

"And it was to highlight they now had doctors on board and could do a lot more. It was surreal to watch. All you could hear was me screaming."

"Since then the Great North Air Ambulance has been a cause close to my heart – from filling out charity bags to making donations.

"I decided to do something big for them this time. It’s a shame it is not government funded and it runs on donations only."

The event at the Queen's Head included a barbecue, raffle and donated bouncy castle.

Joining in efforts were Newcastle fan Mark Butcher and Sunderland fan Tommy McAloon who had their hair sprayed the colours of their rival teams.

Cassandra Graham, 22, also had her head shaved while Thomas Trow, 20, had his chest waxed.