Monday, September 25, 2006

Hammond making "excellent progress"

Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond is "making excellent" progress and has now been moved onto a general hospital ward after his high-speed crash during filming for the show.

The TV host's wife, Mindy, said her family had been overwhelmed by the messages of support they had received since her husband's accident and urged fans to donate money to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance service, joking that Mr Hammond was worried that his fellow Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson and James May would "start taking the mickey" if he received any more flowers.

"Richard is now beginning to worry that Jeremy and James will start taking the mickey, so it would be great if - instead of flowers - people could make a donation to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance," said Mrs Hammond.

"The service is entirely funded by charitable donations and there's little doubt in my mind that without it, Richard would not be making the excellent progress he is," she added.

Mr Hammond, 36, was airlifted to Leeds General Infirmary on Wednesday after the jet-powered Vampire dragster he was driving, at speeds of up to 300mph, veered off the runway at Elvington airfield, near York, and crashed on to the grass.

Friends and well-wishers of Mr Hammond have already raised more than £130,000 for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance since the popular TV presenter's accident.

The latest news of the Top Gear presenter's recovery comes after his fellow presenter, Jeremy Clarkson, revealed yesterday that the injured star had taken his first steps since the crash.

Mr Clarkson said his colleague had got to his feet and walked "shakily" to the toilet at Leeds General Infirmary, where doctors had indicated that Mr Hammond had suffered a "significant brain injury".

Medical staff at the hospital say that the presenter remains in a stable condition.

Meanwhile, the BBC has revealed that the start date for the new series of Top Gear has been postponed from its scheduled return on October 8th, with the channel stressing that it is "still too early" to say when the motoring show will appear again on our screens.

"The priority for now must be ensuring Richard makes a full recovery, but we would not think of finalising plans for the next series without discussing it with everyone involved," said a BBC spokesman.

"When it is suitable, the team will do this and we will announce a new transmission date."