Blackpool fan who took brunt of stray firework blast hailed a hero

A Blackpool fan has been branded a hero after losing two fingers and a thumb on his right hand when he picked up a stray firework heading for a group of children.

Tuesday, 11th May 2021, 7:00 am

Paul Markham’s digits were blown off outside Bloomfield Road as he joined a crowd celebrating Pool’s progress to the League One play-offs.

The 50-year-old, known to pals as ‘Speed’ or ‘Speedy’, was strapped with a tourniquet by one friend and rushed to Blackpool Victoria Hospital in the car of another on Sunday – before being transferred to Royal Preston Hospital, where he was yesterday due to have an operation to try and reattach his fingers.

His future career in the family roofing firm was also unsure.

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Brave Paul Markham intercepted a firework heading for a group of children
Brave Paul Markham intercepted a firework heading for a group of children

“It was an heroic thing to do,” Paul’s dad Billy said. “If that firework had gone off in that group of kids I dread to think what would have

happened.

“But I wish he would have stuck to what he said was his first inclination of kicking it away when he saw it rolling towards them along the ground.

“He decided to pick it up and throw it somewhere further away and safe – and no sooner had he picked it up than it exploded.

“His friends have told me there was blood everywhere.”

Billy, who founded the family company Markham Roofing Services, continued: “Someone rang for an ambulance as there were none near the ground – although there was a mounted police presence – and one of his mates applied a belt as a tourniquet as another drove him up to the Vic in his car.

“He was transferred to Preston and assessed by the micro-surgery team there and it looks like he is going to be in for a few days.”

Billy added: “It was a dreadful shock and we’re just hoping for the best. The intention has always been for Paul to take over the business from me but I really don’t know how he is going to go on as a roofer with a damaged hand. We can only wait

and see.

“I actually suffered similar damage in an accident when I was 16 but I was young enough to adjust. I really don’t know how Paul would go on in this trade without two fingers and a thumb.

Seasiders and strangers raised more than £2,500 online in the hours after Paul’s accident as word spread on social media and forums, against a target of £1,000, which fund-raiser organiser Jay Latham said would “help a friend out”.

Julie Casson accompanied her donation with the message: “What a hero. Every credit for saving those people”, while another contributor, Lynn Ratcliffe, wrote: “What a selfless act of bravery. So proud of you.”

The blast happened after a final day home win against Bristol Rovers, which assured Pool of third place with 80 points and a play-off tie against Oxford United. Fans gathered outside the ground to celebrate, as they had a few days earlier when the play-off spot was first clinched.

But one long-time fan said he felt there was no place for fireworks and similar devices at such celebrations.

He said: “It’s just asking for trouble. There are plenty of ways to celebrate without having to turn to fireworks and flares. They are dangerous, as proved by what has happened to Paul. I’m sure all his fellow fans wish him all the

very best.”

Police said officers were investigating and yesterday appealed for witnesses to contact them with

any information.

A force spokesman said: “Around 1.40pm on Sunday, May 9, a man suffered serious injuries to his hand and arm in Seasiders Way, Blackpool.

“An investigation into the circumstances around the injury is ongoing. If you have any information please contact police on 101 or email [email protected] quoting log 0345

of May 9.”

n To donate to Mr Latham’s fundraiser for Paul, go online to www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jason-latham

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