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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 September 2006, 12:22 GMT 13:22 UK
Hammond donations flood charity
Richard and Amanda Hammond
Amanda has described her husband as "tough as hell"

An appeal by the family of injured Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond has led to a flood of donations to the air ambulance which flew him to hospital.

So far, 130,000 has been raised for Yorkshire Air Ambulance - 50,000 from a single donor.

Meanwhile, his family say Mr Hammond is now on a general hospital ward after his crash in a jet-powered car on an airfield near York.

The 36-year-old suffered a brain injury during filming for the BBC show.

He has since been joking with his wife about the amount of flowers he has been sent.

Amanda Hammond urged well-wishers to consider making a donation to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance instead.

A group of motoring enthusiasts has set up a web page for contributions.

All the money raised so far has "brought forward" plans to buy a new, second helicopter, Yorkshire Air Ambulance charity chief executive Martin Eede said.

"In over 25 years in the voluntary sector I've never known anything like this - we're completely overwhelmed, grateful, thankful," he told the BBC.

"And the good thing is that we'll be able to expand the service due to this kick-start that we've got for our appeal, so there are other people who will benefit like Richard."

Scene of Richard Hammond's crash at Elvington airfield

The BBC has said it has started an investigation into Wednesday's accident, which happened at Elvington airfield while Mr Hammond was driving at speeds of up to 300mph.

It also confirmed the final part of the Best of Top Gear had been postponed indefinitely and the new series, due to begin on 8 October, will be delayed.

The BBC added: "We would like to express our thanks to the 40,000 people who have sent goodwill messages about Richard."

It said the messages were being passed on and would be a "terrific boost" for the presenter.

Mrs Hammond said the family had been overwhelmed by the flowers and messages of support received from well-wishers since her husband suffered what doctors say was a significant brain injury.

  • Estimated top speed: 370mph
  • Acceleration: 0 to 272mph in 6 seconds
  • Engine: Rolls Royce Orpheus
  • Fuel economy: 7-10 gallons per mile
  • Weight: 2,200 lbs (998kg)
  • Length: 30 feet (9.14m)

  • But she added: "However, Richard is now beginning to worry that [co-presenters] Jeremy [Clarkson] and James [May] will start taking the mickey, so it would be great if - instead of flowers - people could make a donation to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

    "The service is entirely funded by charitable donations and there's little doubt in my mind that without it, Richard would not be making the excellent progress he is."

    Mr Hammond's condition is described as stable by doctors at Leeds General Infirmary.

    Top Gear co-presenter Mr Clarkson, a Sun columnist, said in the paper on Saturday that the father-of-two had got to his feet and walked "shakily" to the toilet during the early hours of Friday - just 30 hours after the crash.

    That's the spirit Richard! Keep up the good recovery
    Brett, Middlesbrough

    Mr Hammond had been driving a jet-powered dragster similar to the Vampire used by Colin Fallows to set the British land speed record of 300.3 mph.

    Mr Hammond, from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, had to be cut free after the car "veered off to the right" and its parachutes opened during the drive.

    Primetime Land Speed Engineering, which supplied the car and a support team for the event, said the vehicle "had been prepared and was being operated to the highest of standards".

    Yorkshire Air Ambulance head reacts to the donations


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