FESTIVE revellers are being reminded of the dangers of a one-punch head injury on a night out.
Headway, the brain injury charity in Preston, wants teenagers and young people to be aware of the devastating and long-term impacts that can occur when alcohol-fuelled conflicts arise.
It is being supported by the family of Ben Pennington from Walton-le-Dale, who was left in a coma after being attacked by a stranger on a night out in Darwen.
To save his life, surgeons had to remove a large part of his skull in a five-hour operation to stem two bleeds and relieve the pressure on his brain.
Liz Bamber, Headway charity manager and mother of a brain injury survivor said: “It’s a time of year when people go out more, socialise more and drink more.
“We see many young males at Headway who have been involved in assaults and most instances happen during a night out. We just want to pre-warn people at this time of year to take care of themselves and their friends and get home safely.
“Our message to parents is talk to your children before they leave the house, and to party goers, walk away from trouble and look after your friends. If this advice saves one life we will have done our job”.
Sales manager Ben, 28, was with a friend at the Level One nightclub in Darwen in October when he was felled by a punch from a man who had just arrived at the bar.
Dad Mark, who runs the family’s bakery business, said: “He was only there because his friend Ryan lives over there. It is not a place he visits normally. Apparently two lads came up and one started talking to Ryan. The next thing Ryan turned round to see Ben on the floor. He had hit his head on the corner of the bar as he fell.”
The family were warned if Ben survived, he might have to stay in hospital for up to 18 months, but incredibly he managed to recover well enough to go home after five weeks and is now recuperating.
Mark said: “Ben was so lucky. For him to get out of hospital after five weeks is nothing short of miraculous.
“He’s getting better and better every day, though he’s still got a quarter of his skull missing and is vulnerable.
“His balance has been affected and he takes longer to make decisions, but we’re hopeful that we’re going to get Ben back fully.
“He can’t drive though, which is frustrating for him, and I can’t see him going back to work for the next eight months. He’s a real go-getter and I hope he’s able to get that back.”
He added: “The amount of people who have contacted us about what happened to Ben, saying the same thing happened to their son, has really surprised us.
“It’s devastating to the whole family when something like this happens. We didn’t know what to expect and it really is life-changing.
“And for the five weeks Ben was in hospital I didn’t go into work, so my business suffered.
“These things can happen when you least expect them, and to people like Ben, who I have never known to get into a fight in his life.
“We totally support this campaign, I hope what happened to Ben can help spread the message about what can happen.”
Blows to the head can result in traumatic head and brain injury causing many problems which can be short or long term, depending on the severity of the injury.
Speech, hearing, sight, personality, behaviour and physical movement can all be affected, with jobs, education and relationships often suffering.