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Thanks for saving my son's life

THIS is the face of a brave teenager. Just over a week ago Christopher Montgomery was badly burned in a gas explosion. While some 14-year-olds would hide from the world, Christopher wants to show he survived.

The Montgomery family asked the Dartford Messenger to tell their story because they want to thank staff at Darent Valley Hospital for saving Christopher’s life.

Christopher's mother, Margaret, 37, said: “We wanted to say thank you to the nurses and doctors. If it hadn’t been for Darent Valley, my son wouldn’t be here. The hospital gets so much criticism, but I could not have wished for better care for my son, even if he’d seen the Queen’s doctors.”

Christopher, a pupil at Swan Valley School, Swanscombe, was injured at his friend Sam Hornby’s house in St John’s Road, Dartford. He struck a match in the kitchen to light the cooker and an accumulation of gas exploded.

His upper body caught fire. Christopher remained calm and tried to put out the flames with his hands. He removed his two tops and trousers and went upstairs to the bathroom. He got in the bath and friend Sam doused him with water.

Sam broke the news to Christopher’s mum. Mrs Montgomery said: “The phone rang and a voice said ‘I just rang to say Christopher is on fire’.”

Not surprisingly, the family, who live in Watling Street, Dartford, panicked, dropped everything and went to Sam’s house. Two fire engines and ambulances were already there.

Christopher was being treated for his wounds in the bathroom. He was immediately taken to Darent Valley Hospital where the resuscitation team was on standby.

Mrs Montgomery said: “Everyone in A&E was really, really good. We didn’t think Christopher would survive.” Hospital staff put Christopher on a ventilator before transferring him to a specialist burns unit, at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford.

Christopher was in intensive care for three days.

He has now been discharged but will have to go back and forth to hospital for further treatment. It is not yet known whether Christopher will need skin grafts to help his third-degree burns heal, but so far doctors are pleased with his progress.


“WHEN I saw my face it was scary, I wanted to cry.”

This was the reaction of Christopher Montgomery, 14, when he saw his badly burned face.

Christopher was injured in a gas explosion, the cause of which is being investigated by the fire brigade.

Some burns victims say they feel no pain, but this was not the case for Christopher.

“It was like whoa, what’s going on here.

“There was an awful smell when I was burning. I’ll never forget the smell of burning flesh,” he said.

“The explosion set my clothes alight. I got two tops and my trousers off. My chest was burning. I burnt my hands trying to put out the fire.

“Where I put my clothes down, other things started lighting up. Sam put out the fire while I went upstairs.

“I got in the bath and sat there while he [Sam] poured cold water over my head.

“There was a sizzling sound as the fire was put out.”

Christopher’s wounds have healed quickly since last Saturday.

However initially: “I looked like I’d done 10 rounds with Mike Tyson,” said Christopher, “but I know I’m very lucky to be alive.”

Christopher, his parents, Margaret and George, and brother Kevin, 15, have been overwhelmed by everyone’s good wishes.

Cards with cheeky messages from classmates have been sent from Swan Valley and Christopher has asked us to thank Sam Hornby, Darren Brown, Andy Thompson and Lee and Sean Matthews on his behalf.

“Everyone has been asking how I feel. Everyone’s been really kind.”

Arsenal fan Christopher is not expected to return to school for at least four weeks because of visits to Broomfield Hospital, three times a week.

He will have to undergo regular physiotherapy and maybe skin grafts in the future. But, despite this, Christopher remains cheerful. His humour has helped him through his ordeal.

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