Christmas present saved man’s life


A cyclist who rode the same route for more than two years without a helmet said his life was saved when he crashed only two days after buying one.

Mark Kitchen was cycling to work at Stanton Bonna, from his home in Ilkeston, when he fell from his bike.

He landed heavily and banged his head, which he said would have been “split in two” had it not been for the helmet his mother brought him two days earlier.

Mr Kitchen, of Greenwood Avenue, Ilkeston, said: “I would tell everyone to buy one and wear it.

“I must have done 2,000 miles without one but I was so lucky to have had it on that day. My head would have been split in two if it hadn’t been for the helmet.”

He decided he wanted a helmet after a colleague had an accident at work.

The 33-year-old said: “There was a talk at work after someone had an accident and I came back and said I needed one.

“I told my mum that she could get me a helmet for Christmas.

“She said go and buy one and I will pay for it.”

Mr Kitchen visited his local Halfords and brought a £50 Bell helmet.

He said: “I brought the helmet on the Saturday and I said to my mum, do you want me to wrap it up?

“She said ‘no, I want you to wear it straight away’.”

The following Monday, he was making his way down Quarry Hill Road when he fell from his bike just before 8pm.

What caused the accident is not known but what Mr Kitchen is certain of is that his new helmet saved his life.

He said: “I was incredibly lucky to have it on. It split right the way through, which shows how hard I hit my head.

“A lorry driver found me on the floor.

“I went to hospital, had memory loss and I am off work until after Christmas, but I’m lucky I am still here.”

And now he is urging anyone who cycles to wear a helmet.

“The helmets you can get now are not like the old ones which were really bulky.

“When I was younger and did a paper round they were huge. I got out of the habit of wearing one but it is so important.”