Wednesday 18 September 2019

'They'll always be an important part of our family' - baby born on rescue helicopter spends first birthday with crew

Pictured are Pilot Paul Forbes (left), dad Sandy, Fearne, Torran, mum Alicia and Pilot Yogi Brunner (right)
Photo credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Pictured are Pilot Paul Forbes (left), dad Sandy, Fearne, Torran, mum Alicia and Pilot Yogi Brunner (right) Photo credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Alicia and Sandy MacDonald with baby Torran, as they celebrate his first birthday Photo credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Alicia and Sandy MacDonald with baby Torran, as they celebrate his first birthday with the Bristow Search and Rescue Team at the HM Coastguard helicopter base Photo credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Jess Glass

A baby born mid-flight on a search and rescue helicopter has celebrated his first birthday with the crew who brought him into the world.

Baby Torran MacDonald was delivered two weeks earlier than expected on August 18 last year after his mother Alicia went into labour while officiating at a friend's wedding on the Isles of Scilly.

As there was no midwife on the islands, HM Coastguard picked up midwife Linda Benson from Treliske, Cornwall, before flying to bring the family to hospital on the mainland.

However, Torran was born while 1,400 feet over Penzance, with help from Ms Benson and the helicopter crew.

Alicia and Sandy MacDonald with baby Torran, as they celebrate his first birthday Photo credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Alicia and Sandy MacDonald with baby Torran, as they celebrate his first birthday Photo credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Torran, his big sister Ferne and their parents Alicia and Sandy visited the base in Newquay, Cornwall, to reunite with the three crew members as well as the midwife.

Mrs MacDonald said: "Torran obviously didn't want to wait and he made his entrance to the world onboard the helicopter. We were safe and well and everyone was absolutely amazing but it was all a bit of a rush.

"So we wanted to mark Torran's first birthday in a memorable way and what better than to visit the base and say a proper thanks to the fantastic Coastguard teams, midwife Linda and everyone involved. They'll always be an important part of our family."

The happy family returned to the base and had tea and cake with crew members Paul Forbes and Andy Batchelor, as well as Yogi Brunner, who was flying the helicopter that night.

Captain Mark Coupland, deputy search and rescue flight operations manager and chief pilot for the Newquay Coastguard helicopter, also joined the celebrations.

He said: "This really was a rescue of the very best kind and we were delighted to help welcome Torran. It definitely gave all our helicopter teams and everyone at HM Coastguard a big lift!

Alicia and Sandy MacDonald with baby Torran, as they celebrate his first birthday with the Bristow Search and Rescue Team at the HM Coastguard helicopter base
Photo credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Alicia and Sandy MacDonald with baby Torran, as they celebrate his first birthday with the Bristow Search and Rescue Team at the HM Coastguard helicopter base Photo credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

"We've kept in touch with Alicia and Sandy and we're absolutely delighted they wanted to come back and see us all. While we don't expect to get thanked for our 24/7 coastal search and rescue work, it's really lovely when we do."

Torran was keen to be born, arriving around halfway through the 25-minute helicopter ride back to the mainland shortly before 9pm.

Mrs MacDonald said: "They picked us up and I think we were only 10 to 15 minutes into the journey when Torran came out, so not long!

"We had a good 10 minutes of holding him before we landed on the ground."

The surprise arrival of little Torran was the crew's first birth, but Alicia said the crew and Linda made the birth as easy as possible.

"They were fantastic and definitely put us at ease," she said.

"I think that's why he came so quickly was because we were allowed to be calm and know they were there for us.

"Having Linda the midwife on board was certainly a great help. It all happened very quickly."

The happy family have since stayed in touch with the crew members they reunited with, as well as winchman Ed Griffiths.

Mrs MacDonald added: "We remember the guys who were on the coastguard and Linda and we have kept in touch with them since last year, sending pictures and postcards and presents back and forth and that's why we decided to come back and say a proper thank you.

"It's been very nice to come back and meet everyone and show them Torran."

PA Media

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