‘Five weeks in a coma after I fell changing a bulb’ – Farmers share safety horror stories

Tim Papworth of North Walsham Picture: FARM SAFETY FOUNDATION

Tim Papworth of North Walsham Picture: FARM SAFETY FOUNDATION - Credit: Archant

East Anglian farmers have revealed their accident horror stories in a bid to help improve safety and prevent avoidable deaths.

Jack Fisher of Norwich Picture: FARM SAFETY FOUNDATION

Jack Fisher of Norwich Picture: FARM SAFETY FOUNDATION - Credit: Archant

In the year to April 1, 2019, 39 people were killed on farms - six more than the previous year - four of them in East Anglia. That's twice the figure from the previous year for the region, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures reveal.

By far the highest number (14) were accidents involved moving vehicles - mainly telescopic handlers (6) and all-terrain vehicles (5). Nine were killed through an accident involving cattle and seven were involved in a fall. Three were struck by an object, three were involved in machinery accidents, two died by asphyxiation or drowning and one was struck against a fixed object.

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Chris Surgenor of Chelmsford Picture: FARM SAFETY FOUNDATION

Chris Surgenor of Chelmsford Picture: FARM SAFETY FOUNDATION - Credit: Archant

As Farm Safety Week got under way, Tim Papworth of North Walsham revealed how changing a light bulb in a potato store had life-changing consequences for him five years ago.

He fell from a ladder, suffering a serious head injury. He was airlifted to Addenbrooke's Hospital, where he spent five weeks in a drug-induced coma.

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"I couldn't speak and had two bleeds on the brain. I was paralysed on the left side of my body. I couldn't do anything for myself. The only way I could communicate was by writing notes on bits of paper," he said. Thankfully, Tim made a full recovery apart from impaired hearing in his left ear.

Jack Fisher, from Norwich, a former student at Easton & Otley College, lost his father Peter, 54, on February 11, 2017. Peter was unstrapping a load of straw on his lorry when a stack of four Heston bales collapsed off the side of the vehicle. He was crushed by the impact and died at the scene.

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"I have worked closely with the Farm Safety Foundation and Norfolk Young Farmers Clubs have raised money for the charity to help them carry out their great work at colleges and YFCs throughout the UK," said Jack. "I'm proud to be a farm safety ambassador and help where I can to share our story and hopefully address this awful safety record we have in the industry."

Chris Surgenor, of Chelmsford, who is originally from Northern Ireland, suffered leukemia as a teenager, and later in life, a bout of depression. A break-up and long working hours led to a downward spiral but he got help. "I honestly never knew that there is help available for farmers and their loved ones. Now that I do know, I want to do something to help raise awareness of this help so that I can maybe help someone too," he said.

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