Outpouring of support for Armidale man injured in Christmas Day crash

ROAD TO RECOVERY: Friends and family are supporting Tom Hawthorne as he recovers in John Hunter Hospital from a head-on collision that devastated his family on Christmas Day. Tom will need long-term rehabilitation to recover.
ROAD TO RECOVERY: Friends and family are supporting Tom Hawthorne as he recovers in John Hunter Hospital from a head-on collision that devastated his family on Christmas Day. Tom will need long-term rehabilitation to recover.

A HEAD-ON collision that devastated an Armidale family on Christmas has led to an outpouring of support.

A GoFundMe page has raised more than $25,000 in just five days for 20-year-old Tom Hawthorne.

Mum, Kate Pigram, said the family has been overwhelmed by the generosity.

“You couldn’t get a worse day for something like this to happen than Christmas,” Ms Pigram said.

Tom had been home in Armidale for just two days before leaving a family gathering at Dumaresq Dam on Christmas Day.

Ten minutes later his parents discovered the horrific accident.

“It’s been a pretty emotional journey, it was really horrible,” Ms Pigram said.

It’s been a pretty emotional journey, it was really horrible.

Kate Pigram

“They stabilised him in Armidale and airlifted him to John Hunter Hospital [in Newcastle].

“He arrived around midnight and had already had a couple of operations.”

Tom spent ten days in the Intensive Care Unit before he was moved to the Brain Injury Ward.

He suffered a severe brain trauma and damage to his knees.

Friends from around the world have sent messages of support to the family.

The streets of Banff in Canada, where Tom had spent time travelling and working, were lit with candles.

“He’s just met so many people and done such amazing things, trekking and hiking and snowboarding,” Ms Pigram said.

“Now he’s waking up, he can recognise us and he’s learning to speak himself again.

“He can’t stand up or anything, but they’ll start rehab and so many people work on him.”

When family-friend Belinda Vivers and her husband started the fundraising page, Ms Pigram wasn’t sure if she could accept the help.

“I said we’re not worthy – well worthy isn’t the right word, but we don’t really need this I thought,” she said.

“But she told me people were looking for a way to help and didn’t know how.

“Donating $50 gives them an opportunity to do something and for that we’re just so grateful.”

At this stage it’s uncertain how long Tom’s recovery will take.

It’s expected he will eventually be moved to a full-time brain recovery facility and one of his parents will relocate to Newcastle to be with him.

“We’re hoping and praying that he’ll make a good recovery,” Ms Pigram said.

“But the emergency services, the police, SES, firies, ambulance, Armidale Hospital and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter – I can’t thank them enough.

“I can’t believe the job they did, it was just unbelievable.”

She hopes people will show their support to the Westpac Rescue Helicopter.

To donate to the family visit gofundme.com/pray-for-tom.

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