THE family of a couple who died together in a motorbike accident have posted a selfie the pair took 20 minutes before tragedy struck.
The heartbreaking snap of Lee-Anne Parkin and Steve Carroll was posted as part of a petition to get the government to publicly fund air ambulance services.
Steve was killed outright but a helicopter, funded by charity, took Lee-Anne to hospital where she died a week later.
Family of the couple have managed to get 90,000 signatures for a petition which calls on the life-saving service to be funded from the public purse.
Lee-Anne, a 40-year-old mum-of-two, and Steve, 43, posed for the picture at a cafe in Driffield, East Yorkshire, on March 31 this year. Twenty minutes later their bike collided with a car on a nearby B road.
Lee-Anne’s sister, Bethany Billington, from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, set up the petition on May 1. On June 12, she posted the selfie together with the news the petition had hit 50,000 signatures. It reached 90,000 this week.
She wrote: “Just 10 weeks ago my life changed in the most horrendous way, I lost my amazing and beautiful sister in a horrific motorcycle accident… I don’t want money, I don’t want sympathy, just that simple click of a button to make a change that would make a huge difference to this country.”
She added: “My brave sister fought hard for a week but was in a very deep coma, and after suffering serious injuries to her head, her battle came to an end the following Sunday, April 7.
“The Air Ambulance Team kept in frequent contact with the hospital the entire time to check Lee-Anne’s progress, and as a family we are forever grateful to them and to the wonderful hospital staff at Teesside ICU for doing everything in their power to try to save my sister’s life.
“The Air Ambulance plays a vital role saving lives across the country and need to raise around £12,000 per day to keep both the Air Ambulance’s helicopters maintained and in the air and as a family we are very grateful to have had them there when Lee-Anne needed them most.”
Bethany said today: “They are paid for by charitable donations. I want to help them out as this accident has changed everything for me. If nothing comes of it it would be great if they could be a grant of money towards it help it running every year. I was never expecting this outcome to my sister’s story.
“She was just so happy – she had this sort of laugh like a massive heckle and I can’t get it out of my head.”
Lee-Anne, from Wrenthorpe, West Yorkshire, who left behind two children aged 13 and 16, was off to meet Steve’s family for the first time on the day of the accident.
Bethany’s mum, Evelyn, had been opposed to organ donation before the tragedy but changed her mind.
As a result, Lee-Anne went on to help five people including as a woman in her 50s who had been waiting 11 years for a kidney transplant.
Reef Mellors wrote under the Bethany’s post: “So sorry to hear of your loss Beth, thoughts are with you and your family. Signed and shared.”
Chloe May Tierney added: “20,000 to go. Amazing Beth, forever proud of you and such a fantastic achievement.Lee-Anne and Steve will be cheering you on proud as punch.”
Paige Lewis wrote: “Signed. So sorry for your loss Beth. I hope you make these changes.”
Katie Atherton commented: “Done.And shared, it’s the least I can do but let me know if you need anything else. Thinking of you all.”
Heidi Gh wrote: “I’ve signed and shared I can see how important it is to you hope you get the outcome you want. And I hope your all doing okay.”
Great North Air Ambulance Service were grateful for Bethany raising awareness of their cause but, argued their independence from government was what allowed them to operate in this capability.
A spokesman said: “Bethany is raising awareness of a crucial issue – that UK air ambulances rely on charity to survive.
“Last year alone, the Great North Air Ambulance Service needed to raise more than £5m. This enabled us to respond to 1062 call-outs, one of which was the tragedy involving Bethany’s sister.
“We appreciate all the financial support we receive. We have benefited from Government grants in the past that have supported our independence, and look forward to seeing the outcome and eventual impact of the petition.
“Independence has allowed us to develop a streamlined organisation and one which can push through developments without the burden of bureaucracy.
“It was this independence that enabled us to be one of the first air ambulances to carry doctors, ultrasound, and blood on board. All major advancements that save lives.
“Independence is therefore vital to us, but we would welcome funding in support of this.”