ANDREW WOTHERSPOON believes it was a cycle helmet he got from the Oxford Mail that saved him. Now he’s hoping hundreds of other cyclists will follow his lead.

The 72-year-old is still recovering at the John Radcliffe Hospital after suffering multiple injuries from a crash with a car at the Cassington junction on the A40 on October 2.

He said doctors told him the helmet probably saved his life.

Today the Oxford Mail has teamed up with Witney firm Oxford Products to give readers another chance to buy one of 500 helmets for just £5, a saving of nearly £10, in a bid to cut the number of serious head injuries in accidents.

Mr Wotherspoon, of Milmoor Crescent, Eynsham, bought his helmet under a similar promotion in 2007, along with one for his wife, Ann, their son and two grandchildren.

He said: “I would encourage people to take up this offer to stay safe like me – it probably saved my life and it could save many more lives. It is amazing that the Oxford Mail is doing this again.”

Oxford Mail editor Simon O’Neill said: “There are still far too many accidents involving cyclists in Oxfordshire.

“Wearing a cycle helmet is the most basic precaution anyone should take. It might just save your life, so we’re pleased to make our own small contribution.

“I would urge any cyclist who does not have a helmet to take full advantage of our offer.”

Neal Denton, chairman of brain injury charity Headway Oxfordshire, says wearing a cycle helmet saved him from a head injury during an accident three weeks ago.

The father-of-two said he was brushed by a car and then hit a pothole and drain cover, catipulating him into a ditch on the side of the A415 into Abingdon.

Mr Denton, 51, from Abingdon, said: “I came off my bike coming into Abingdon about 25mph.

“I did land on my head and I smashed my helmet and broke my collarbone.

“The A&E consultant said I would have had severe concussion if not a head injury if I hadn’t worn a helmet.

He added: “It is absolutely important – helmets and visibility.”

Since 2009 there have been more than 1,300 collisions involving cyclists across Oxfordshire.

Joe Wilkins, 39, was cycling with a friend in Eaton Road, near Appleton, last year when he was hit and killed.

Mr Wilkins’ partner Nicci Saunders is now an ambassador for road safety charity Brake.

Mum-of-two Miss Saunders, 40, from Eynsham, said: “I think cyclists should be wearing helmets on main roads especially and I think children should be made to wear them from the moment they get on a bike, so it is a natural thing to put on.

“It’s difficult to say if it should be made compulsory to wear helmets, but certainly our girls always wear one. They pick their own and if they’re a bit more expensive I would rather pay more for them.”

In some countries it’s a legal requirement to wear a helmet, including Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Hamish Simpson, who was Professor of Orthopaedics at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, said: “I think it should be compulsory for cyclists to wear helmets.

“If you grade brain injuries from nought to six, with six being fatal, wearing a helmet drops you a couple of grades.

“So, instead of getting a major brain injury, wearing a helmet means you might only get a minor head injury.”

Prof Simpson, who is now a Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery in Edinburgh, added: “The main injuries from cyclists not wearing helmets are severe head injuries with people going into comas and also facial injuries round the eyebrows and cuts round the eye, as it rubs against the tarmac.”

But he added: “Cyclists also need to have a better road etiquette and need to be careful when pulling out onto a road.”

Richard Mann, from cycling campaign group Cyclox, said visibility was more important than wearing a helmet. He said: “We encourage people to get some back lights, especially in the evening with the clocks going back so you can be seen. It makes a massive difference.”