Hunstanton award for accident hero

In the presence of the High Sheriff of Norfolk, Civic Dignitaries and guests, James Kipling thanks Neil for saving his life. www.townandaround.net MLNF17EB05101
In the presence of the High Sheriff of Norfolk, Civic Dignitaries and guests, James Kipling thanks Neil for saving his life. www.townandaround.net MLNF17EB05101

Neil Johnson was given a standing ovation at a civic reception in Hunstanton on Friday for saving James Kipling’s life last September.

Tears filled the eyes of guests as the events of the evening of September 21 were recounted by the mayor, James Johnson – Neil’s father – on behalf of Mr Kipling’s mother, Jane Cozens, who had nominated Neil for the award.

Townspeople had been asked to nominate local people for community awards to be presented at Friday’s civic reception in the Town Hall.

Among the guests of honour at the evening were James Bagge, High Sheriff of Norfolk, and Lt Col Bradley Downs, from the USAF 67th Special Operations Squadron, which is twinned with Hunstanton.

After hearing of Neil’s actions, Lt Col Downs said: “I want to shake that man’s hand.”

Guests at the evening heard that last September, James came off his moped by the Lighthouse in the town at about 10pm.

Neil was out walking his dog and found him.

The nomination from Mrs Cozens said: “He called the emergency services and stayed with James reassuring and comforting him until they arrived.

“James was in a critical condition, having sustained multiple fractured vertebrae, eight ribs and both scapulas. His lungs had collapsed and he had head injuries.”

The nomination said James was taken to Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital and then Addenbrooke’s.

“He was not expected to live and they told me to get my family there, which I did. James fought back and after four weeks on life support responded to the excellent care of the unit,” it noted.

“On December 12, he was transferred to the Princess Royal Spinal Unit in Sheffield whose treatment prepared him for the future.

“Although paralysed from the chest down, he is making good progress. James met Neil at a golf charity event to raise funds to help him.

“He learned what had happened that night and thanked him in person; an emotional meeting. James feels Neil should be recognised for his kindness, support and for saving his life, as Addenbrooke’s told him he had done.

“I feel, as do my family, Neil Johnson, a good Samaritan and an unsung hero, deserves this nomination.”

In possibly the most emotional part of the evening, the microphone was then handed to James Kipling who thanked the man who had saved his life.

He said “Because of Neil’s actions I am here today, without him I would have been taken away in a box and I can’t thank him enough.”

Presenting son Neil with his award, the mayor added: “I am a very proud father.”