A MOTORCYCLIST who was involved in a crash near an Army training ground in the Yorkshire Dales has been reunited the soldier who pulled him to safety moments before the bike exploded.

Martin Hunter, 51, from Acklam, Middlesbrough, was on his way through Swaledale and Wensleydale for a motorbike ride with friends when he came off after a collision with a Peugeot car on Whipperdale Bank, near Leyburn, last month.

Corporal Tony Fitzpatrick from Para Company the 2nd Infantry Training Battalion at Catterick Garrison, saw the smoke from the burning Moto Guzzi motorbike.

Loading article content

Cpl Fitzpatrick said: “I was on the range with recruits going through some training exercises when I saw the plume of smoke from the road.

“I hadn’t seen anything like that in the area before so being nosy I went to investigate – and as soon as I saw Martin lying next to the burning bike I knew I had to move him straight away.”

But because of the difference in size between the two men – Mr Hunter weighs 20 stone and is six foot five inches tall while Cpl Fitzpatrick is five foot six inches tall and 11 and a half stone – Mr Hunter’s friends assisted the manoeuvre.

Cpl Fitzpatrick, 33, said: “Bystanders who were speaking to emergency services on the phone were screaming at me not to move him, but I ignored them because I knew it would not be good for him to breathe in the smoke, and also there was a risk of explosion.”

As predicted, the bike exploded as Cpl Fitzpatrick was attempting to put out flames with an extinguisher, knocking him off his feet.

He said: “It could have been a very different story if he remained next to the bike. I’m just so glad it is a happy ending and we have been able to meet and have a chat.

“As a soldier I am meant to serve the British public so it is great that was there and able to help.”

Mr Hunter, who brought his parents Brian and Mary Hunter to the meeting, said he was delighted to be able to thank his rescuer in person.

“I just wanted to say thank you – it is not said often enough these days,” he said.

“My dad was actually a Para in the 1950s so it has also been great for him to visit the new home of the company – very poignant.”