BY JAMES TWOMEY
An international gymnast who is in a coma after falling from a balcony in Portugal needs £30,000 to be flown home, say his family.
Oliver Hillier, 26, from Walworth Road, Southwark, had brain surgery at a hospital on the Portuguese island of Madeira on July 21 after falling from a second floor balcony of his hotel.
He fell on the first night of a holiday there – and remains in a coma three weeks later, after surgery.
Oliver’s mother, Mary Hillier, 54, said: “He was always by my side driving me places, holding my hand across the road. He is my rock and I’m lost without him.”
Oliver had flown to the island to take care of his mother, who is disabled and was on holiday there with her mother and nephew.
Ms Hillier added: “Oliver is an amazingly kind, loving son who is my right hand. He loves his family very much and had a whole list of places to visit while in Madeira which I am carrying around with me to remind him that we will do them when he is better, thank God.”
His family say they arrived at the hotel late in the evening and dropped their bags off quickly before going to eat dinner in the hotel restaurant.
Oliver decided to stay up and chat with the locals while the others went to bed, but at around 4am the police knocked on Mary’s door to tell her that Oliver was in hospital after the fall.
Rachel Hilliers, Oliver’s sister-in-law, said: “He’s had a bit of skull removed to relieve the pressure, there’s a bleed on the brain and a pocket of fluid at the front of his head which is going down. He’s in an induced coma after the surgery and has now developed a chest infection.
“But for some reason he’s not covered on the family health insurance, and the insurance company won’t pay to bring him home. That’s why we need the £30,000.
“Oliver is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. Nothing is ever too much trouble for him and he is always there when you need him.
“I’m never without a smile when he is around and couldn’t imagine a life without him in it. We all just want him home.”
Oliver’s brother, Daniel Hillier, said he is slowly coming off the sedation and breathing by himself, but he may need further surgery.
Daniel said: “His insurance is covered while in the hospital – it’s just the transfer fees from hospital. We’re up to £3,000 now in raising funds and people are still contributing.
“He is my baby brother, a kind soul to everyone. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do to help other people. I know he is going to get through this with the love and help of his family.
“He is a great brother and great uncle to my girls and his nephew. We just need him back with us.”
Oliver was a gymnast who trained at a Camberwell gym and competed in competitions internationally.
He decided to take time off from gymnastics to look after his mother and family and was on holiday with them to drive them around.
Daniel added: “If you ask him to do anything he’d do it in a heartbeat.
People adore him and he’d do anything to help you. He’s just a genuinely nice person.”
A spokeswoman for the Bristish embassy in Portugal said: “Our consular colleagues are supporting the family of a British man who is in hospital in Madeira and have been in contact with the Portuguese authorities and the family’s insurance company.”
Oliver’s family have set up a fundraising page for him which can be found at www.gofundme.com
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