Discovering a Dying Man – 26 March 2010


So, I’m coming home from Scouts, being driven along a main road in Maidenhead, and suddenly I spot a couple of bodies lying on the side of a lay by. Mum, who was driving, was concentrating on the road, and hence didn’t spot a thing. She continued driving.

I, of course, am slightly concerned over what I have just seen. “Blimie.”

Mum asked me what was wrong, and when I told her, she realised the best option was to head back down and drive into the lay by. Mum drove slowly past, while I confirmed my thoughts. It was not in fact two bodies, but one wrapped up in a blanket with trainers emerging. We decided we should stop and call the police, so I dialled 999 from my mobile.

After explaining the situation fully, the police were on their way. We were then playing waiting games, uncertain as to what was going to happen.

7 minutes later, I see a bunch of ‘youths’ approaching from the other direction. They were the same as I had seen when we’d been driving past earlier, but walking in the opposite direction. I realised that they must have gone to fetch adult help.

But just to ensure they didn’t kick the life out of this guy, mum and I got out of the car. We hear one shout, laughing “Is he dead?”

Mum moved closer, and told them we’d called the police, to get them to move on and prevent any fight. Then another tells mum that it is in fact a mock-up, and is a charity fundraiser.

It turns out that the event, held once a year, was the very event I’d sponsored someone to do a few weeks earlier. It involves a whole bunch of 50 teenagers sleeping rough for one night, with all money raised going to kids who are forced to every night.

Feeling relieved, I phoned 999 again, to tell them that it had been a false alarm on this occasion. But, while mum was ever so embarrassed, I knew that should it have been a dying man, I could have saved his life.

Andrew Burdett

Andrew Burdett is a twenty-something from Maidenhead in Berkshire, working for ITV News.