Farmer airlifted to hospital after breaking neck in fall

A leading Norfolk farmer, Tim Papworth, is being treated for head injuries at Addenbroke's Hospital after falling from height in a barn.

Surgeons at the Cambridge hospital operated to relieve pressure on his brain within hours of the accident which took place last Thursday at a potato store at Tunstead, near North Walsham .

The air ambulance landed in a field by a farm at Tunstead.

The clinical crew of Dr Jeremy Mauger and Dr Haris Bergovic and paramedic Gary Steward anaesthetised Mr Papworth and immobilised his spine.

Within the hour, he had been taken to Cambridge, arriving at 4.20pm.

Mr Papworth, 41, of Lodge Farm, Felmingham, who is understood to have broken his neck after falling some 16ft or 17ft on to a concrete floor, has some feeling in his arms and legs.

A statement issued by his family on Tuesday said: 'Tim has started to respond to instructions, including moving his right thumb when told to.'

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At the time of going to press, he had been moved into the neurosciences critical care unit at Addenbrooke's.

Mr Papworth is vice-chairman of the National Farmers' Union's horticulture board, and last month was appointed chairman of the NFU's potato forum to represent the country's growers.

His uncle, David Papworth, who arrived back from a business trip to Holland later the same day of the accident, said: 'He was on a gantry in a potato store and slipped or fell. Everyone is just hoping and praying for a full recovery as quickly as possible. Somebody said that he might have been changing a light bulb, I just do not know,' he added.

It was just last month that Mr Papworth was presented with the Countryside Careers Award at the Tower of London by farming minister Jim Paice for encouraging closer links between young people and the agricultural industry.

The farm and contracting business, which was established at Felmingham by his grandfather in 1930, now covers about 4,000 acres of potatoes, sugar beet, cereals and livestock for more than two dozen owners.

Mr Papworth, who is the eldest son of Jim and Susan, is married to Emma, and they have three children. He went to Norwich School qualifying as a butcher at City College. As a teenager, he was injured in a farm machinery accident in 1988, which delayed his studies for 12 months.

Heavily involved in the farming industry, he is also a parish councillor at Felmingham and a coach of a junior rugby team at North Walsham.

In a statement, his cousin Kit Papworth, who is joint managing director of the award-winning family farming enterprise, added: 'LF Papworth Ltd treats its health and safety responsibilities extremely seriously and will be complying with the police and any health and safety investigation which may be required.'