THE father of a teenager who was left with severe brain damage following an assault on Bexhill seafront in October, has praised his son’s ‘miracle’ progress.
Former Ninfield Primary pupil Mo Bourner, who turned 16 on December 28, is slowly making progress at King’s College Hospital, Dulwich, but as his dad Peter Bourner exclusively told the Observer: “He’s never going to be the carefree boy we once knew, though for him to be alive and to have got to the stage he has is a miracle.”
Mr Bourner, who farms at Hooe, said that Mo was now able to speak a few words, though largely communicated by writing on a pad, and was now able to breathe and take food by himself.
He added: “On Christmas Day we were able to take him out into the fresh air for the first time since he was assaulted, albeit in a wheelchair, and on his birthday the family all gathered at his bedside to sing songs and wish him well.”
Together with his partner, Melanie, Mr Bourner said: “One thing that has been long overdue is for us to thank from the bottom of our hearts all the people who have shown such love and concern for Mo, and who have helped him and us throughout these terrible months.”
He revealed that sisters Sam White and Lou Murphy at Hooe’s Red Lion Inn, supported by their staff who have even contributed customers’ tips, had raised £600 to help meet fares for Mo’s friends going up to London to visit him in hospital.
Mr Bourner said: “Some of those who have donated to collections at the pub don’t even know Mo, but have wanted to show their support, and that has meant so much to us. Indeed, the love and prayers from throughout the community have been overwhelming.”
The Dragon Bar in Hastings Old Town has similarly raised more than £100, and Inspired Artwork, also based in Hastings, have collected money and spontaneously created a giant get well card for Mo which was displayed for several weeks on Bexhill’s eastern promenade.
Mr Bourner said: “Thanks are due there, too, to Graham Burgess and his team at Rother District Council, who went out of their way to permit the display, and to our neighbouring village of Ninfield, where the Christian Women’s Fellowship raised £200 for Mo.”
Mr Bourner himself donated a lamb for sale at Hailsham Market, expecting it to fetch around £80, and was staggered when buyer Guy Grimstead handed over £850, made up to £1,000 by the market vendors themselves.
“That was amazing,” said Mr Bourner. “We immediately donated that money to the intensive care unit at the Hurstwood Park neurological centre in Haywards Heath, whose staff played a vital part in Mo’s early treatment.
“They twice saved his life, and their dedication is beyond words.”
Apologising if he had missed anyone out, Mr Bourner said the family was also “extremely grateful” to Detective Chief Inspector Nick Sloan, of the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Unit, and his team who had investigated the attack on his son and had shown such compassion while doing so.
He also thanked BBC’s Crimewatch UK for highlighting the case to help bring forward vital evidence, and he had a special word of thanks for Rebecca Bailey, the police family liaison officer, who had been so supportive.
“They’ve all been absolutely brilliant,” said Mr Bourner.
He was also grateful to artist Robert Sample for producing an impression of Mo lying desperately ill during his early days at Kings, which featured in the Crimewatch programme broadcast last month.
Mr Bourner said he now hoped that funds could be found to transfer Mo to the Children’s Trust at Tadworth in Surrey, which specialises in treating acquired brain injuries among children.
n Soldier Ashley Dacosta, 20, of Victoria Barracks, Windsor, who grew up in Bexhill, is currently remanded in custody after being charged with grievous bodily harm over the attack on Mo.
He is due to appear at Lewes Crown Court for a plea and case management hearing on March 2.