Attack victim Ben Pennington has woken from his coma and is acknowledging his family.
But, while dad Mark says the news is “encouraging,” he admits the 28-year-old still has a tough battle ahead to get well again.
Now supporters have launched a crowdfunding appeal to raise the cash Ben could need on the long road to a full recovery. The fund, on JustGiving, is called “We’re raising £25,000 to help Ben Pennington” and it has already raised almost £2,500.
“Lots of Ben’s friends were asking what could they do to help and someone suggested an appeal,” explained dad Mark from Walton-le-Dale. “The support we have had has been absolutely phenomenal. We’ve had messages from all over the world from people who have read Ben’s story on the internet.
“Lots and lots of his friends have been turning up at the hospital to visit him – one day there were 18 lads in the waiting room at the same time.”
Sales manager Ben was felled by a single punch from a total stranger in the Level One nightclub in Darwen two weeks ago.
He hit his head on the bar as he fell and underwent five hours of brain surgery in the Royal Preston Hospital to save his life. He had the front part of his skull removed to stem bleeding and ease pressure on his brain. His family decided to publish a graphic photograph of him in hospital to help trace witnesses.
“Ben is out of critical care now,” said Mark. “He is out of his coma, awake and acknowledging us. He is saying the odd word and the doctors say he is doing really well. But it is very early and we don’t really know what to expect. Some people have said he could be in hospital for between six and 18 months. We will only know as time progresses.
“He has done amazing so far. He is slowly coming to terms with what’s happened. But he is still in a dark place. He just gets frustrated when he can’t do things and ends up losing his temper. People are doing sponsored walks and stuff for him. Amir Khan has donated one of his boxing gloves to be auctioned. It’s incredible.”
Police are appealing for witnesses. A man has been arrested on suspicion of assault and bailed.
To donate to the Just Giving page, visit: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/benpennington