THE owner of a popular Oxford bar and restaurant says he owes his life to the air ambulance.

When Stuart Kerley was 19 years old, he was involved in a “horrific” head-on car crash when his Ford was in collision with a Land Rover.

It left him in a coma for five days with a broken pelvis, punctured lung and needing more than 120 stitches in his face.

The landlord of the Oxford Retreat says without the quick response of the air ambulance team who flew him to hospital, he never would have lived to tell the tale.

Mr Kerley, 38, said: “I don’t remember much about it. I was travelling from Oxford to Marlborough and I’m told I went round a corner and hit a Land Rover.

“I woke up seven days later and was like ‘what’s happened?’.

“I was out for five days in intensive care and had so many injuries, I’d even snapped the ligament in my knee.

“At the time I’d just started playing for Bristol rugby club.

“Thanks to the air ambulance, I not only got my life back, I managed to play rugby again.”

The bar, in Hythe Bridge Street, is holding a fundraising night next Thursday to raise money for the service that saved his life.

Events include live music from local bands and a raffle with prizes including bed and breakfast at the Randolph hotel.

Mr Kerley said: “I owe my life to this invaluable service.

“It is great to be able to give something back and to raise awareness of their amazing courage and hard work.

“It is shocking when you learn the statistics of what it takes to keep this service running.”

The Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance serves Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.

Despite being on call every day of the year in one of the busiest areas in the country, it is entirely funded by charitable donations.

Mr Kerley said: “I don’t think a lot of people realise that the air ambulance relies on charity.

“So we want to have a great party next Thursday and encourage local people to support them.”

The single helicopter is manned by one pilot and two paramedics, who are supported by a small team of doctors. Each mission flown costs around £2,000, with an average of three missions a day.

Anyone who can donate a raffle prize should contact