IT has been a heartbreaking few months for the parents of Mark Middlehurst – a young man critically injured in an accident on the other side of the world.
Julie and Malcolm, from Billinge, have spent every moment possible with their son, 28, while he has been in the Royal Perth Hospital after sustaining a severe head injury in a biking accident on November 3.
And they are now desperate to get him home to be with his friends and family but need to raise £25,000 in around 10 weeks to cover the costs of the flight and the medical team who will need to assist him.
Julie, 58, said: “He is still not responding at the moment. If the nurse asks him to give them a thumbs up he doesn’t. He just doesn’t seem to understand what people are asking him to do.
“It is heartbreaking. He is such an active, energetic and happy-go-lucky young man.
“We spend every day from about 10 in the morning to eight at night with Mark, we’ve never missed a day. We play him music and tell him stories in the hope he will remember.
He is still not responding at the moment. If the nurse asks him to give them a thumbs up he doesn’t. He just doesn’t seem to understand what people are asking him to doJulie Middlehurst
“His friends from the farm have been to visit and we have some other friends who are from home but live out here that come and talk to him a few times a week.
“We try to stay positive. Getting him home would be great because all his friends and family would be round him rather than just me and his dad and a few people. They might get a response from him.”
So far, friends and family have raised £25,000 as part of a fundraising campaign set up by the Middlehurst’s family friends Paul and Sue Darbyshire.
But they now know that flying Mark home is likely to cost in the region of £50,000.
And if, as they hope will be the case, doctors say Mark is well enough to fly in around eight to ten weeks time there is little time to raise the remaining £25,000 needed.
Julie and Malcolm have said they are extremely grateful for everything that has been done and everyone who has organised events and donated but that they feel it is essential they get Mark home soon to help his recovery.
“We just want to get our son home,” Julie, who is a healthcare assistant on the maternity ward at Wigan Infirmary, said.
“Mark will be flown home on a normal plane, hopefully he will be well enough to fly in a business class seat but he will need a full medical team with him.
“We have been absolutely blown away, overwhelmed and we are extremely grateful for everything everyone has done. We feel very cared about, very loved. It is the only thing that is getting us through to be honest. People in Australia have been very, very kind to us. My friends at work, my husband’s friends and Mark’s friends, they all been wonderful and are always offering to do things for us.
“It is too big for us on our own, we couldn’t do it but it is essential that we get him home so we can get him round some familiar faces.”
Julie has spoken for the first time about the moment she received the life-changing phone call and how she and Malcolm, a joiner, rushed straight to the airport to be with him.
She said: “I was at work and just getting on with things when a colleague came over and said ‘Julie, we’ve got a phone call from Australia’.
“It was one of Mark’s friends from the farm he had been working on.
“He said there had been an accident.
“I just started shaking. I asked how bad is it and he said, ‘It’s bad, he took the injury full on his head and he’s unconscious’.
“So I rang Malcolm and when we both got home we sat in the lounge waiting for news from the Royal Perth Hospital.
“In the end we rang and the guy said he hadn’t arrived but that they knew about him and he said to call back in a few hours.
“When I phoned back a few hours later they said he was very, very critically ill and if it was his son he would want to be with him. We raced down to Heathrow and got the next plane and we have been here ever since.”
Paul and Sue are in the process of arranging more fundraising events, including a ladies night and a golf day.
No dates have been confirmed yet and anyone wanting more information, to donate or to help are asked to call Paul on 07790 654608 or visit gofundme.com/mark-middlehurst.