Family’s thanks as big Hitchin night nears to help rider James rebuild his life after Brands Hatch crash

Michael and Jeff Hann

Michael and Jeff Hann - Credit: Archant

The father of talented Hitchin motorcyclist who suffered life-changing spinal injuries on the track has paid tribute to the tremendous response from friends, family and the wider community who have rallied round, ahead of a fundraising event this weekend.

James Puttrell was injured in a crash at Brands Hatch during the first lap of a National Superstock 600 race in April as he tried to avoid fallen riders.

After he and another rider were treated at the trackside, critically-injured James was flown by air ambulance to St George’s Hospital in London.

The 25-year-old has made good progress since then, but the damage to his spinal cord is irreparable and he will always have to use a wheelchair.

James is being treated at the renowned spinal injuries unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, after also being treated by experts at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.

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Dad Steve Puttrell told the Comet: “I am so proud of my son and the strength he’s shown.

“His rehabilitation is going well even if there have been highs and lows, good days and bad – but his courage and bravery have been an inspiration to everyone.

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“We don’t want to dwell on the past, we want to look to the future, and his positive attitude has been phenomenal.

“The response from everyone has been out of this world.

“We would like to thank all his friends and everyone who has shown such loyalty in supporting him, as well as all our family, and of course his wonderful partner who has been fantastic.

“I’d also like to say well done to all his old school friends, including Michael Hann, who, along with his dad Jeff, have been the prime movers in helping to organise this Saturday’s fundraising quiz night.”

Michael, who helped organise the sold out night quiz at Hitchin’s St Michael’s Community Centre this weekend to help raise funds for the specialist equipment James will need once he leaves Stoke Mandeville early next year, said: “The response from everyone has been amazing.

“When we started putting the quiz night together we hoped to sell about 70 or 80 tickets.

“But as it is we’ve sold 150 tickets, making it a complete sell-out – and could probably have sold more than 200.

“This certainly isn’t about the organisers, it’s about paying tribute to James’ strength of character and resilience – and the fact that so many people who care about him have stepped up to show that they care in so many different ways.

“It’s great that so many people are showing their support for James and his family, including the quiz night.”

James also worked at Bike Stop in Stevenage High Street. Director Martin Brown paid tribute to him, saying: “We have been touched by the number of enquiries we have received from within the biking community with who he built such a great rapport.”

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