A devoted dad who has raised £50,000 to promote cycle safety showed he had the ‘X Factor’ at the Pride of Britain Awards.
Paramedic Mark Smith has campaigned tirelessly for the compulsory wearing of cycle helmets since his son Ryan suffered brain injuries in a crash on his bicycle last year while not wearing a helmet.
On Monday evening, he attended the glittering Pride of Britain Awards at Grosvenor House, in London’s Park Lane, as a nominee in the Fundraiser of the Year section.
Although Mark did not win the award, he found himself rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest names in showbusiness, including X Factor stars Simon Cowell and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini who even took time out to chat with Ryan and sister Rachel back home via a ‘FaceTime’ video call..
Mark, of Chapel St Leonards, said: “Cheryl and Simon were absolutely lovely and it was great of them to FaceTime Ryan and wish him well.”
For Mark, the evening was also a chance to do some valuable networking with the stars to promote his campaign.
On the night he gave out some promotional material on safer cycling and talked to celebrities and sports stars including former track cyclist Sir Chris Hoy and 2012 Tour De France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins on the importance of wearing a helmet while cycling.
“I’m in no doubt that if Ryan had been wearing a helmet that day it would have made a big difference,” said Mark.
“It does not matter that we didn’t win the category, as I’ve always said we have our award at home, as after the long road to recovery our boy Ryan is back and can continue to recuperate at home.
“It really was an inspirational night and the real stars of the night were those that were awarded and nominated for coming through their own personal tragedies.”
Yesterday, Mark Smith travelled with other nominees and award-winners from the competition to 10 Downing Street where he said he planned to promote his campaign with Prime Minister David Cameron.
Mayor of Skegness Coun George Saxon said: “I think Mark has done exceptionally well to be nominated, let’s hope he can enlist the help of some of the celebrities there for his campaign.”
He added: “Although he didn’t win the category, he’s a winner in my eyes.”