A MOTHER whose life was turned upside down after her beloved son was brutally stabbed in the head in a random attack while on holiday in Reading is urging young men not to carry knives. 

Her message comes as her son has been pictured for the first time outside in fresh air after weeks of recovering from his near-death experience at Royal Berks Hospital.

As previously reported, Tharel Thompson was on holiday in the UK from his home in Barbados when his attacker struck him with a blade on the dancefloor at Walkabout Bar in Reading. 

He nearly died with doctors stunned by his miraculous recovery. He currently awaits further brain surgery but is in a stable condition as his hospital bill continues to grow by the day and is now expected to top £200,000.

This week, his mother Yvonne Thompson and uncle Andrew Beckles were pictured with Tharel, who is eagerly awaiting the next steps to help him get home to Barbados safely. 

Speaking to the Chronicle, Yvonne said she would urge young men not to carry knives. 

"Don't do it," she said. "It's just not worth it. You could totally change someone's life forever. And not just their lives, but the lives of their families too."

Knife crime has seen a significant increase in recent years. More than four per cent of 7,500 young people surveyed said they carried a weapon in a report last year.

While recorded knife crime across Thames Valley reduced by four per cent across the Thames Valley area in the 12 months to November 2023, a number of high-profile incidents locally prove it remains an issue.

In 2021, 15-year-old Olly Stephens was stabbed to death in Emmer Green. And just a year prior, three men were stabbed in a terror attack in Reading's Forbury Gardens. 

It comes as the National Council of Barbadian Associations UK has called on the NHS to drop the escalating medical bill facing Tharel. 

Sherry Maxwell, chair of NCBA UK, said: "On a humanitarian level, just imagine a young man who was excited to visit our nation and to experience the arts and culture only to become a victim of a heinous crime.

"He was not here to drain the UK of resources. Just imagine a mother having to travel to the UK to be at the side of her only son and watch him fight for his life. Now imagine the increased trauma she suffered on receiving a bill from the NHS of £160k, knowing that the charges will most probably increase and having no knowledge of how the bill will be paid.

Ms Maxwell said: "As concerned UK citizens, we believe that the UK Government should have a duty of care for our foreign visitors. International tourism spending in the UK amounted to circa 26.5 billion in 2022, and is projected to grow to circa 30.9 billion in 2023. Considering that the market was in recovery in 2022 from the restrictions due to the Covid 19 pandemic, we deem this to be a significant contribution to the economy.

"In instances where injury has occurred due to violent crime, considering that the injuries are so severe that the victim cannot travel back to their home country for treatment, and considering the significant contribution to our economy by foreign visitors, we believe that the NHS costs should be waved for emergency NHS treatments if the foreign visitor is a victim of crime."

Fundraising efforts continue with hundreds of people donating some £26,000 towards Tharel's medical costs. 

The initial goal of £10,000 was set up with the sole purpose of covering medical costs. The family subsequently received a bill from the NHS for £160,000. The GoFundMe target has been raised to £200,000 to cover current and future healthcare costs.

To visit the fundraising page, click here.

Ms Maxwell added that she was "extremely proud" of the Barbadian and Friends community in Reading who have done "so much" to support Tharel's family.

She said: "I thank the community so much for their efforts and I urge them to continue fundraising. I thank the Healthcare Professionals at The John Radcliffe Hospital and The Royal Berkshire Hospital for all of their efforts to save Tharel’s life.

"I thank Pastor Wesley Sealy and the congregation of The New Testament Church of God Oxford. I thank Thames Valley Police for their continued investigations and their engagement with the family.”

Two men have been charged with attempted murder and will face a court hearing later this year.