A popular cyclist is in a critical condition after being attacked on a shopping trip just two days before Christmas.
Stephen Willey, 45, a member of South Shields Velo Cycling Club, has yet to regain consciousness after suffering severe head injuries when he was punched while waiting at a bus stop with wife Paula in Newcastle’s New Bridge Street West on December 23.
He hit his head on the pavement, which caused bleeding on the brain.
Mr Willey, from Donwell, Washington, was taken to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, where he underwent emergency surgery before being placed into an induced coma.
He is now breathing without the help of machines, with his family waiting desperately for him to regain consciousness.
Brother Chris, 32, said the last month had been a “very distressing” time for the family.
He said: “He’s yet to regain consciousness, and it has obviously been a very distressing time for the family. Thankfully, he is now off the ventilators and is breathing by himself.
”The first thing I was told was that it was imperative that he had the operation, and that it was 50-50.
“The timeframe between the incident happening and him being in theatre was between 90 minutes and two hours, which probably saved his life.”
He added: “Each day, the swelling is coming down, and he remains in a critical but stable condition.
“Hopefully he will regain consciousness shortly and we will then know what we’re facing.”
Chris, who has praised the treatment his brother has received at the RVI, added: He added: “The last five weeks have seemed like an eternity, and it has been really difficult, but to see how far he has come is testament to the hospital, which has been brilliant.
“I sometimes wonder whether he would have survived if he was elsewhere.”
Stephen Willey’s family are set to hold a week-long fundraiser in his honour.
A fundraising spinning challenge will take place at Fausto Coffee, in St George’s Terrace, Roker, between tomorrow and next Friday, with participants riding a stationary bike for an hour at a time.
The bikes will be in use for all of the shop’s opening hours during that time.
There will be two bikes outside the coffee shop, with about 120 hours of riding set to take place, and 89 people having signed up so far.
Funds are being raised for the Royal Victoria Informary.
Chris said: “We came up with this fundraising idea because Steve and I are quite keen cyclists, Fausto got in touch because we pop in there quite regularly, and they offered their services for the spin bike challenge.
“The funds are going to the RVI, and will be split between Ward 18 (Adult Critical Care Unit), where he first was admitted to, and Ward 16, which is the neurosurgical ward where he is now.
“We’re just so grateful for what they have done at the RVI. It’s only right that we do something for them.”
To make a donation, visit www.justgiving.com/spinforsteve
l Nicholas Leslie Graham, 26, of Belsay Gardens, Newcastle, has been charged with grievous bodily harm and is due to appear at Newcastle Crown Court.