Friday 20 January 2017

Politician brands himself a 'stupid fool' after explosion leaves him with severe burns

Ben Mitchell

Published 08/08/2016 | 16:10

Gordon Henderson in hospital with burns to 30% of his body after his bonfire exploded as he poured petrol on it to get it started. PA
Gordon Henderson in hospital with burns to 30% of his body after his bonfire exploded as he poured petrol on it to get it started. PA

An MP has described how he was left with burns to 30% of his body after his bonfire exploded as he poured petrol on it to get it started.

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Gordon Henderson, Conservative MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey in Kent, said he was left in "agony" following the accident which left him in hospital for 10 days.

The 68-year-old, who posted a photo of his injuries on Facebook, explained he had built a new bonfire enclosure in his garden and used a small amount of petrol to get the fire going.

Describing the incident on the social media site, he wrote: "I failed to take into account that my new bonfire enclosure would create a build-up of petrol fumes.

"That, my friends, was a problem I had not anticipated. When I lit the bonfire it was those fumes that exploded, not the petrol itself!

"Because the fire was contained on three sides the exploding fumes had nowhere to go, except forward - towards me. It was a scary moment!

"My hair caught fire and I was badly burned on my face, back, sides, chest, both arms and right leg. In fact, my left leg was the only part of my body to escape (relatively) unscathed.

"Thankfully, there was a hosepipe close by (positioned for just such an eventuality) and my wife, Louise, had the good sense to immediately douse me with water for 10 minutes.

"If she had not taken such immediate action then I might well be dead, and that is not being over dramatic!

"Thereafter our fantastic NHS kicked in and I found myself in the capable hands of a succession of caring health professionals."

Mr Henderson said his wife initially took him to a minor injuries unit at Sheppey Community Hospital where he was transferred by the Kent Air Ambulance to the trauma unit at Tunbridge Wells Hospital before being taken to the specialist burns unit at Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead.

There he was placed in the intensive treatment unit.

He said: "It appears that I sustained burns on 30% of my body, although, once again, I was lucky.

"My burns were deemed 'superficial', in as much that no skin grafts were needed, although, apparently, such wounds are the most painful because they affect surface nerves. I can vouch for that pain. I was in agony. Perhaps I was not so lucky after all!"

Praising the hospital staff, he added: "However, despite the pain I have suffered during the past couple of weeks I could not help but be impressed by the dedication, professionalism, hard work and good humour of all the NHS staff who cared for me and their many other patients. They were exceptional."

Mr Henderson said he hoped others would learn from his mistake and added: "It appears that I am not the only stupid fool who uses petrol to start bonfires. And, believe me, my action was foolish and is not something I will be doing again. Ever!"

Press Association

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