#FindMike has Found Mike

Yesterday I wrote about being a Good Samaritan as two events in the news occurred very close to me, one with extremely bad results and one with extremely good ones.

Just a mile or so from where I live yesterday morning, a man jumped off a bridge onto the M1 motorway at 10.50am.  Whether he was struck by a car or not, he was obviously very seriously injured.  The motorway was very busy as that particular stretch always is but a few cars who witnessed the event stopped.  One brave man got out of his car to help the injured man and was sadly struck by a very fast moving car.  The road was closed off for hours and helicopter ambulances arrived but sadly both the jumper and the brave, kind hearted hero died from their injuries.

Spencer Bell

Spencer Bell, 71, went to the aid of a jumper on the M1 and was hit by a car.

Despite the tragic news, it is nice to know that even on the impersonal motorways, there are one or two people willing to help complete strangers.

One prominent case of someone helping a stranger with great results has culminated with the #findMike campaign.  On 14th January 2008, Jonny Benjamin who had spent a month in hospital due to a recently diagnosed mental illness went to Waterloo Bridge in central London, feeling hopeless and ready to commit suicide into the the cold river below.

Waterloo Bridge

Waterloo Bridge in London (photo Daily Mail)

By chance a stranger noticed the events and he came over to talk to Jonny.  The stranger said “Please don’t do this… you can get better. Let’s have a coffee and we can talk about this”.  Struck by the normality and kindness of the man, he climbed back over the bridge railings where he was taken into care by the police.

For 5 years both men have wondered about the other.  Jonny thought about the stranger almost every day of his life whilst the stranger often wondered how the man was and whether he had recovered or perhaps followed through with his plans at a later date.

A few weeks ago Jonny launched a campaign seeking to be re-united with the man who had saved his life.  He did a number of interviews and his campaign was backed by many celebrities and even the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg. Greatly helped too the tweets by Stephen Fry who apart from being an all round genius and comedy great, famously suffers from severe depression.

Last week the fiancee of the stranger saw the tweet and it was clearly evident that she knew the man who was the target of a twitter storm around the world.

#Find Mike

Jonny and meets his Good Samaritan (Photo Daily Mail)

A few days ago and on national television, Jonny got to meet the man who saved his life, Neil Laybourn.  Johnny was very emotional at the meeting but the two hit it off together very well as if they had been friends all their lives.  Neil said that he was just glad that he had been able to help someone before joking that Jonny owed him a favour whilst Johnny said ‘I feel like I’ve won the lottery. It means the world to finally have the opportunity to say thank you,’ says Jonny.

#Find Mike

Jonny and Neil, clearly delighted to meet each other in happier circumstances. (photo Daily Mail)

The two men have promised to now keep in touch and Johnny is working on a documentary which is expected to air on BBC later in the year.

While the two cases couldn’t have had more polarising results, I’d like to think that I and many others would do what Neil did even if events could turn out for the worst as they did for Spencer Bell.

Next time you’re in London or another big heartless busy city, just think that there is probably a hero just a few feet from you, even if neither of you yet know it.

About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including several #1 sellers. I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. I run my private tours company with one tour stated by the leading travel website as being with the #1 authentic London Experience. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
This entry was posted in Life, London and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to #FindMike has Found Mike

  1. Sad tears and then happy tears. This needed a tissue alert !! Well done!!


  2. Fabulous post, Stephen!


  3. Reblogged this on ThePoliticalIdealist.com and commented:
    News doesn’t always have to be about the self-interest and imprudence of humanity. Sometimes, the story of one good act by one individual deserves to be told, and reminds us of the value of solidarity and support for others.


  4. peerq says:

    Hi Stephen,

    I am one of the digital people who worked on Find Mike and just wanted to let you know that the whole film can now be viewed online via YouTube if you want to add this into your article. The link is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ac7MKsj8sWM

    Warmest wishes



A blog is nothing with out feedback, please give me some!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s