A popular family man remains in a critical condition after being allegedly attacked just two days before Christmas.
Stephen Willey, 45, is yet to regain consciousness after suffering severe head injuries when he was the victim of an alleged one-punch attack while waiting at a bus stop with wife Paula in Newcastle’s New Bridge Street West on December 23.
He fell to the floor and hit his head, which caused bleeding on the brain.
The keen cyclist, from Donwell, Washington, was taken to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI), where he underwent emergency surgery before being placed into an induced coma.
Stephen, a Nissan worker, 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.
This has had a massive, massive impact on our lives, and we know there is a very long road ahead of usChris Willey
He said: “Stephen hit his head and that caused bleeding on his brain. 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. Each day, the swelling is coming down, and he remains in a critical but stable condition.
“This has had a massive, massive impact on our lives, and we know there is a very long road ahead of us.
“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’s 45 and I’m 32, but he’s fitter than me, which is a bit embarrassing for me.
“I’m very close to my brother, so it is devastating that he is in this position.
“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, and I wouldn’t have one word said against them.
“I’ve been kept going by the amount of people that have been in touch, which has been incredible.
“My phone has never stopped with messages of support since it happened, and that has been the same for the whole family, which means the world to us all.”
lNicholas Leslie Graham, 26, of Belsay Gardens, Newcastle, has been charged with Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH) and is due to appear at Newcastle Crown Court.
Family to hold week-long fundraiser
Stephen Willey’s family are set to hold a week-long fundraiser in his honour.
The keen cyclist, who is part of South Shields Velo Cycling Club, is a regular visitor to Fausto Coffee, in St George’s Terrace, Roker.
A fundraising spinning challenge will take place there 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 Infirmary (RVI), in Newcastle, where Stephen has been treated since the incident, and has yet to regain consciousness.
An online fundraising page set up, meanwhile, has already attracted more than £500 of donations.
Brother Chris said: “We came up with this fundraising idea because Steve and I are quite keen cyclists, and we normally head towards Newcastle, Sunderland or Tynemouth.
“Fausto got in touch because we pop in there quite regularly, and they offered their services for the spin bike challenge. Originally, it was just going to be a two-day event on the Friday and Saturday, but because of the incredible amount of people who have signed up, it now looks like it’s going to be a full week from Friday to Friday.
“It has been quite overwhelming, but quite a nice surprise. The amount of support we’ve had has been phenomenal.”
Messages of support have flooded into the family over the last five weeks, including from professional cyclists and cycling outfit Team Sky, who are set to send a signed jersey.
Chris added: “So many people have been willing to help and give up their time, which makes me feel very proud of my brother. I’m dreading starting the event tomorrow, though, because I think I’ll get emotional, as I’m very close to my brother.
“I just want to be there, and shake peoples’ hands for helping out. 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.