FORMER Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond praised the work of a county charity which supports people with brain injuries when he attended a fundraising event last week. Hammond, who was on crutches following a recent near-death horror crash in Switzerland, was at Herefordshire Headway's summer barbecue.
He had been invited to the event after striking up an unlikely friendship with 48-year-old John Blaydon, from Hereford.
The pair have both suffered brain injuries – Hammond was seriously injured when the jet-powered car he was driving spun out of control at 288mph in 2006 – and have become good friends over recent months.
Speaking at the fundraiser, Hammond, who lives in Weston-under-Penyard, near Ross-on-Wye, said: "The nature of brain injury is that people are recovering at different rates and at different paces. Someone could come to benefit from services here [Herefordshire Headway] but bring with them a big contribution because there must be other people that they can help.
"Because I have had that road to recovery I can have an insight as can any recovering patient into that process and what really matters. You come to a stage when you are desperate to contribute and be useful."
Hammond said there are certain 'eccentricities' shared by those who have experienced brain injuries, including feeling vulnerable or questioning trust and emotions and the life-long process of recovery.
Mr Blaydon said: "It meant a lot for him to be there and it's nice to know somebody in his position doesn't think he's too important to do something like that.
"The charity itself has been absolutely brilliant and the support they give is brilliant."
And while there are many opportunities for celebrities such as Hammond to do 'big things' for charity, he said it is also important to make connections on a more personal level.
Hammond added: "If you're on TV you can do big stuff for charities and that's fantastic but it's also important to remember that, if you have a connection with something meaningful, as I have with brain injury, you're actually better off making friends with the people on a one-to-one basis."
6 July 2017
Report by Jessica Phillips, Senior Reporter
John Blaydon, left, and Richard Hammond, at the BBQ Lunch