Paralysed Former Air Ambulance Patient Takes on Ambitious Triathlon Fundraising Challenge

Eight years after his life-changing accident, Martyn Piercy, 47, has his heart set on raising as much money as possible by creating his own triathlon challenge, to support the Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA) team that helped to save his life.

After an accident at work left Martyn with life-changing spinal injuries, the YAA team were dispatched and after an assessment on-scene, Martyn was immediately flown to Leeds General Infirmary where he was rushed into emergency 9-hour surgery.

Sadly, Martyn’s spinal injuries were too severe, leaving him paralysed from the waist down. However, after spending six months in a spinal rehabilitation unit, his positive ‘can do’ attitude ignited a determination to fight against his diagnosis and regain some movement in his legs, with a long-term aim to walk again.

A former stone worker, Martyn now considers physiotherapy his full-time occupation, seeing each day as a ‘shift’ to reach his mobility goals. Martyn said, ‘The biggest challenge for me is the mental process to keep going, taking the good days with the bad. I devote nearly five hours a day to physiotherapy exercises. I see it as an investment into my quality of life and a way to keep my life as normal as possible whilst living with my injuries’.

Determined to give thanks to the team who saved his life, Martyn has organised his own triathlon challenge around his hometown of Dalton in Thirsk, with the help of his cousin, Stephen Piercy.

The triathlon which takes place on the 7th of May has been adapted for Martyn, who will be completing a 100-metre walk in callipers, a 15-mile handcycle, and finishing with a 500-metre swim. Stephen will be supporting his cousin by completing a 6-mile run, a 15-mile cycle, and a 750-metre swim.

Stephen is no stranger to taking on athletic fundraising challenges, raising over four-thousand pounds for charity in 2019 whilst completing the Great North Run. Speaking of the decision to support his cousin, Stephen said, ‘I am incredibly proud of Martyn, his ambition and determination to complete this triathlon has been remarkable and I couldn’t be prouder. Thank you to everyone who has already donated, the money is going to an excellent charity, without which, Martyn’s injuries could have been significantly worse!’.

Tracking their training journey on fitness community platform Strava, the pair have shared training videos, training routes and personal best times. As a result, the cousins have received an influx of supportive messages cheering them on ahead of the big day.

Martyn said, ‘Throughout the years, I have always known in my heart when I was physically up to the task, that I was going to do something to give back to the YAA team. It was just a matter of ensuring I was fit enough to handle the challenge. I am forever grateful to the team, they immediately came to my aid and got me to the hospital as quickly as possible. I have no idea what would have happened to me if they weren’t there, the team saved my life that day.

I am so glad to Stephen for joining me on this challenge, he is more than family, he is a great friend, and I am so thrilled he will be there on the day by my side to keep me going’.

Initially setting a two-thousand-pound fundraising goal, in just one month, the duo has exceeded their target hitting £3,874. With a week left before their challenging triathlon, the pair are still working hard to encourage further donations and support.

Tessa Klemz, Regional Fundraiser (North), said, ‘Everyone at Yorkshire Air Ambulance is rooting for Martyn and Stephen. When we first heard of Martyn’s story there was a sense of awe in the room for how inspirational he truly is. We wish them both the best of luck for the big day!’.  

If you would like to support Martyn and Stephen, click here to visit their Just Giving page where you can donate.

Over 8,500 people across Yorkshire have received lifesaving care by the quick action of Yorkshire Air Ambulance service over the past 23 years. For further information please visit or to speak to the friendly team call 01422 237900.

Read more news from Yorkshire Air Ambulance here.