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Ride escort in crash with police van; Force looks into charity event accident.

Byline: Dan Warburton

A CHARITY fundraiser was cut free from his van after a collision with a police vehicle in Newcastle yesterday.

Self-employed builder Graham Chappell, 44, was shadowing a pack of cyclists at 15mph when the crash happened.

It took place just before 6am as the father of three joined the A696 at Woolsington, Newcastle.

Mr Chappell was one of 12 people taking part or assisting in a cycle ride across the country to support the Lucas Charity, an organisation set up to raise funds for a Leeds toddler with a rare type of cancer.

The crash pushed the support van on to the roadside.

Firefighters and paramedics freed Mr Chappell from the van before placing him in a neck brace and on a stretcher.

His two passengers, Don Kelly, 69, a retired legal executive from Leeds, and John Mather, 62, a retired firefighter, also from Leeds, were treated for minor injuries, and a police officer was taken to hospital with chest injuries. Mr Chappell, of Morley, Leeds, last night said the van was equipped with hazard lights and flashing beacons.

He said: "It was a clear day, there was nothing on the road and we were travelling at very low speeds.

"It's quite lucky because the van has to keep a distance of about 15 yards from the cyclists, so we are fortunate that it was not worse.

"I had blood all over me from a cut in my face and I was worried about my neck, so they had to cut my seat out and put me in a brace and on a stretcher.

"All the cyclists were concerned about the police officer, but apparently he is OK. My van was a total write-off."

Mr Chappell was 166 miles into the 320-mile ride from Edinburgh Castle to Middleton in Leeds. He was driving a Ford Transit which contained spares and equipment for the bicycles. The equipment was badly damaged in the accident.

He said he was devastated that he could not continue on the ride.

"The two guys who were travelling with me were doing it so they can contribute.

"This accident has meant they are having to stop. There are seven men and women still going and we have managed to get a replacement vehicle. I said I didn't want them to stop.

"I just want them to carry on so we can do it for a sick little boy."

A police spokeswoman last night confirmed there had been a collision between a police van and a vehicle supporting a charity cycle ride.

She said: "A full and thorough investigation is under way to establish the circumstances of the crash."

CHARITY FORMED BY GRANDMOTHER

THE Lucas Charity was formed by a South Shields grandmother wanting to raise money for cancer-stricken toddler Lucas Longthorpe.

The two-year-old, from Middleton, Leeds, Yorkshire, was born healthy but after only five months was violently sick and started losing weight.

Doctors eventually identified the problem as a tumour the size of a grapefruit and numerous test samples were sent to America as doctors tried to establish the type of cancer.

He has now been diagnosed with Pleuropulmonary Blastoma, a rare childhood cancer of the lungs, making him one of only four children in the world to suffer from the disease.

Since then his grandmother, Rose Brown, 63, who is originally from Marsden, South Shields, has formed the charity and tirelessly works to raise funds for Ward 15 of the St James's University Hospital in Leeds, where he is treated.

Last night she said: "He is such a happy child, with a lovely nature. He takes everything in his stride. I set up this charity because the hospital saved my grandson's life. How can you say thank you to someone has done that? People ask me when I will stop, but how can you put a target on that."

For more details, visit: www.lucas.charity.google pages.com/home or contact Rose on 07801 970779.

"The van has to keep a distance of 15 yards from the cyclists, so we are fortunate it was not worse.

CAPTION(S):

HOSPITAL CHECKS From left, John Mather, Don Kelly and Graham Chappell, whose Ford Transit was in a crash with a police van as they escorted charity cyclists in Newcastle. Picture: Emily Barber www.icNewcastle.co.uk/buyaphoto ref: 01109675; SCENE OF POLICE VAN ACCIDENT; CANCER VICTIM Toddler Lucas Longthorpe.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 6, 2008
Words:735
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