Page last updated at 16:00 GMT, Wednesday, 15 October 2008 17:00 UK

Stuffed toy foxes 'saved my life'

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown
Mr Clifton-Brown escaped serious injury after the incident

A Tory MP has told how a bag of stuffed toys saved his life after he fell 20 feet down a hole while in China.

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, MP for the Cotswolds, stepped off a ramp outside a hotel in Beijing only to find himself falling down a concrete shaft.

But the stuffed toy foxes, given to him by a Chinese internet firm, cushioned his fall and he escaped serious injury.

"I took this huge bag of stuffed foxes and by pure luck it literally saved my life," he told the BBC.

Lucky mascot

He recounted the experience after mentioning it during a Parliamentary debate on British firms doing business in China.

The MP said he had considered throwing the toys - used by the firm as a mascot - away but decided to keep them for his family.

As it turned out, they saved him from serious injury as he landed abruptly on the concrete floor.

"It is amazing the thoughts that go through your head when you are in freefall," he said.

"Finally the crunch came 20 feet down this sheer concrete shaft with a concrete floor.

"I blinked and thought well I'm still alive and found I hadn't broken anything."

Despite the scare, Mr Clifton-Brown plans to return to China on another trade mission in four weeks time.

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