Messages of support for TV's Hammond

MESSAGES of support from Suffolk were today sent to Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond who is in a serious but stable condition in hospital after a high-speed car crash.

MESSAGES of support from Suffolk were today sent to Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond who is in a serious but stable condition in hospital after a high-speed car crash.

Hammond, 36, was injured in the accident yesterday while filming an apparent attempt to break the British land speed record in a rocket powered dragster at Elvington airfield, near York.

As family and friends gathered at his bedside at Leeds General Infirmary today, doctors confirmed his condition had showed some improvement overnight.

Paul Bickers, managing director of Coddenham-based Bickers Action, which has staged a number of Top Gear stunts, said he was shocked when he heard of the accident.

“He is one of the nicest people on the show. He's a very normal, approachable guy,” he said.

“We were with him in Norway for the mini ski jump feature which we set up, and we've done a lot with him over the years.

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“I heard about what had happened on the news last night and I was totally shocked. He's just an easy going sort of fellow and we all wish him well.”

A man believed to be the presenter's brother told reporters outside the hospital today that the family had had a “difficult night” and were very tired.

He said his brother had regained consciousness at some point but did not want to go any further into his condition.

A former firefighter who was one of the first on the scene following the crash said Hammond had been travelling at speeds close to 300mph before the accident.

Mr Bickers, 39, who helped in the filming of Top Gear stunts at the former Bentwaters airbase near Woodbridge, said the show was “strictly controlled” and health and safety was paramount.

Hammond, who often drives high-performance cars as part of presenting Top Gear, was born in Birmingham but lives just outside Cheltenham with his wife Amanda and two children.

He first appeared on British television screens on cable and satellite channels presenting motoring programmes before switching to the BBC's Top Gear in 2002.

A spokesman for the Health and Safety Executive said an inspector would be visiting the airfield today to make initial inquiries over the crash.

Weblink: www.bbc.co.uk/topgear

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