A CARPENTER who was left with major injuries following a bike crash in Thailand has thanked the supporters who helped pay his medical bills.
Friends and family of Ryan Elson have raised £20,000 since his accident on August 1.
Now the 28-year-old is back home in Wantage and has paid tribute to everyone who has backed him.
Mr Elson had fluid on the brain and needed facial surgery after the accident.
But he had not taken out health insurance, and was faced with a medical bill for just under £22,000.
Yet friends, family and even people he had never met who heard of his plight pulled together, and through a “flabbergasting” effort raised almost the entire cost of his bill.
Mr Elson returned home – with his family who had flown out to visit him – on August 29.
He is continuing to have treatment for his injuries.
He said: “When something like this happens, you don’t get time to prepare for it, you have to take it day by day and hope that things work out.
“I would like to say a huge thank you to my friends and family, but most of all to the amazing community and the spirit in which they reached out to me and my family.
“It has made the recovery process so much more bearable, I am overwhelmed with all the support and I am truly grateful.”
Among the events organised to help raise money were a bake sale, a poker night, a football match, a sky dive and an auction with live music.
Mr Elson’s mother Sharon said: “These young people are champions of decency and caring, and they have done amazingly well.
“People’s generosity, their love and support, that is what has really touched us.
“Ryan is not out of the woods yet, he still needs treatment and we don’t know exactly what it will be.”
A Wantage 999 emergency fund, made up of town police, paramedics and firefighters, were among the contributors, donating £1,000. One of those leading the fundraising efforts was Diane Monnery, whose son Jake has been a friend of Mr Elson since they were five.
Mrs Monnery, 54, from Grove, said: “I am gobsmacked, it is real community stuff. Ryan’s friends have just run with this.
“My other son came down from London and said this just wouldn’t happen where he lives.
“Ryan is the sort of guy I can ask to come and fix my fence and he will just do it. He is very popular for a reason – he is a really good guy.”
Wantage charity champion Ray Collins is holding a welcome home party for the Elson family tomorrow night at Shush nightclub, which he hopes will give them a chance to thank, and in some cases meet, the people who worked to hard to bring him home.
Mr Collins said: “I have been fundraising for seven years and I was blown away by the wave of support that blew up out of nowhere.
“I have never known anything like it, but Wantage is like that, people just get behind things. They all thought, ‘that could happen to me’.”
Entry to the fundraiser at Shush will cost £10, and there will be live music.
Mr Elson’s father Rob hoped his son’s accident would be a reminder for other people travelling overseas to take out insurance.
He previously told the Oxford Mail: “If this can be a warning to others, then it should be. We just want our son to get better.”