A full-time carer who took his disabled mother on holiday is fighting for his life in hospital after falling from their hotel balcony, as his family try to raise £30,000 to bring him home.
Oliver Hillier, 26, took his mother Mary, 53, grandmother Maureen, 80, and nephew, Alfie, 12, on a summer break to Madeira last month so he could drive them around the island.
But just hours after they arrived at their hotel Oliver disappeared and was discovered by a security guard having fallen nearly 20ft from a second-floor balcony
His family, of West Norwood, south London, are terrified his mother, who suffers from dystonia, will be left without a carer and are trying to raise thousands to bring him back to the UK.
Speaking to MailOnline, his sister Rachel Cook described her brother, who used to be a world champion gymnast before he took over his mother’s care, as ‘the glue that holds the family together’ and the ‘light of their lives’.
Oliver Hillier (pictured), 26, took his mother Mary, 53, grandmother Maureen, 80, and nephew, Alfie, 12, on a summer break to Madeira
This is the second floor balcony at the family’s Madeira hotel that Oliver is believed to have fallen from
The 31-year-old said: ‘We’re all trying to stay strong for him, but it’s so difficult, we keep breaking down. It’s awful.
‘His grandmother has fallen ill since it happened so she’s looking after Oliver and his mum, when it should be him taking care of both of them.
‘Him being in a different country away from his family and friends doesn’t bear thinking about.’
It is not known how Oliver came to fall off the balcony, but Portuguese police believe he was trying to find his hotel room in the dark and peering over the balcony – accidentally slipped and fell. They are not treating his fall as suspicious.
Mrs Cook claims the family arrived in Madeira late on Sunday July 21, dumping their bags in their hotel room and going out for dinner.
The two women went to bed but Oliver, who was training to be a firefighter before the tragic accident, went to explore with his young nephew.
When his mother came to check on him, he said he’d be ‘up any minute’, but after one hour of waiting, she went to bed.
At 4am the family had a knock on the door from a policeman who told them Oliver had ‘had a fall and bumped his head’.
Fighting for his life: Oliver is pictured in intensive care at the Dr Nelio Mendonca hospital in Madeira
He was rushed straight into surgery for an operation to remove part of his skull to remove pressure on his brain and is still awaiting another operation
Holding his clothes, he asked them if they could go to collect him at a hospital just under an hour’s drive away.
But when they finally arrived a few hours later, they found Oliver had suffered severe head trauma and was in a coma.
Oliver, of West Norwood, south London, was training to be a firefighter, used to be a world champion gymnast and cared almost full-time for his mother Mary
Mrs Cook said: ‘A security guard at the hotel found him on the concrete at around 2am and called a private ambulance.
‘He had already had surgery to remove some of the left side of his skull to relieve pressure on his brain.
‘It was a horrible situation to find him in, he wasn’t stable when they first saw him.
‘He’s still on life support and still in a coma, but they’re reducing his sedation levels day by day to see if he responds.’
Harrowing pictures from his bedside show him hooked up to a ventilator and with deep stitches across his skull.
Oliver’s medical bills are covered by emergency European Health Insurance until mid-August, but he only took insurance cover out for his relatives, thinking ‘everything would be okay’.
Beyond that date costs could run into the thousands. The Hilliers want to fly him home to be treated in a London hospital, but doctors have to agree he is stable enough, and even then an air ambulance and team of medics would cost at least £30,000.
A crowdfunding campaign has raised £3,000 so far, but they are in a race against time to get the rest.
The 26-year-old is pictured with his mother Mary, who suffers from a painful condition called dystonia
His sister said: ‘He got insurance for everyone else apart from him. He used to be a world champion gymnast and he’s been travelling all over the place with that since the age of six.
‘He probably thought he didn’t need it and everything would be okay.’
In a desperate plea to help with funding the family said in a statement: ‘Please help us bring the most important person in our life’s home. We can not live without him.
‘However much you can spare will be appreciated.’
The Foreign Office confirmed they are helping the family, with a spokesman adding: ‘We are supporting the family of a British man who is in hospital in Madeira, and have been in contact with the Portuguese authorities and the family’s insurance company.’
Oliver is pictured far left with one of several gold gymnastic medals