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Marlene, 72, plucked from Lizard clifftop after breaking a hip

By West Briton  |  Posted: October 25, 2012

  • Clarence Combellack with his wife Marlene, recovering at home after her traumatic experience on the coastal footpath near Porthallow.

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A PENSIONER has praised the professionalism and compassion of the emergency services and others who helped when she fell and broke her hip walking on the Lizard.

Marlene Combellack, 72, fell while walking between Porthallow and Nare Head with her husband Clarence, and was flown by a helicopter from RNAS Culdrose to the Royal Cornwall Hospital at Truro for treatment.

She said she must have slipped on some grass or a loose stone: "It was a silly thing, really."

Just before her fall Mrs Combellack had asked her husband if they had their mobile phone with them. He replied: "Yes – in the car."

With no way of raising the alarm and no one else near, 86-year-old Mr Combellack had no choice but to set off to walk to Porthallow, 20 to 30 minutes away, leaving his injured wife alone.

Fortunately he met another walker en route who had a mobile and summoned help.


The couple are experienced cliff-walkers and have tackled that particular stretch of the path several times.

Mr Combellack described how upsetting it was to have to leave his wife to get help, and both described the incident as traumatic.

Coastguards decided that because of the remote location Mrs Combellack would need to be airlifted, and so called in the Royal Navy.

The helicopter's arrival coincided with her husband's return.

"I was quite surprised, but relieved," said Mrs Combellack. "The paramedic was excellent – absolutely marvellous and very kind.

"I was taken to Treliske where I received wonderful treatment from the surgeons, doctors and nurses, who I consider to be second to none.

"Although the accident was quite traumatic for me it was made easier because of the care and attention given to me by all those involved."

She said this included some "fantastic neighbours" at the couple's home at Farms Common in Wendron, and Mr Combellack also thanked the man whose mobile phone he used, who comes from Portreath but whom he knows only as Norman. Mrs Combellack spent ten days in hospital and said she was expecting it to take her about ten weeks to recover fully.

"We had professionalism, compassion, the lot," she said.

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