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Waikato Times
May 1, 2002

Hobbit Buoyed by Wellwishers
Staff Reporter

Nearly 1000 Lord of the Rings fans from around the world have sent Jeffery Hawkes get-well messages since his car was hit by a train three weeks ago.

The 1.58m Gordonton man, chosen as a hobbit extra in the Lord of the Rings trilogy because he had "nice leg length", had his leg amputated below the knee after a southbound train hit his car on the tracks at Hopuhopu, north of Ngaruawahia.

"Even better leg length now," joked the 30-year-old from his Waikato Hospital bed.

"I've been laughing a lot and making fun..."

Lord of the Rings fans from Europe, Britain and America have e-mailed Mr Hawkes via the Waikato Times or posted messages on a website, www.the-witch.net/hobbit/getwell.htm, to wish him well since the story of his accident was picked up by the Tolkien fan website Theonering.net.

Mr Hawkes, president of the student union at the Waikato Institute of Technology, spent four days in a drug-induced coma because of severe head injuries.

He's also had five operations for a fractured ankle, broken elbow, skin grafts and plastic surgery to sew his eyelid back in place.

"I was pretty close to seeing the big guy," said Mr Hawkes, whose car crashed on to railway tracks as he was driving home from practising a Buddy Holly song for a karaoke competition.

"I got an e-mail from a guy in Memphis who said if I was into Elvis as well he had lots of memorabilia, and if I wanted any just ask," Mr Hawkes said.

Most e-mails from fans say they are "eternally grateful" for his performance in the Lord of the Rings movie, no matter how small.

"I had no idea that people are so passionate about the Tolkien saga," said Mr Hawkes.

"A guy came in and said `gidday, I was a hobbit too', wished me the best and went on."

And Mr Hawkes, who just two months earlier was boasting he had never broken a bone in his body, just wants to get on, too.

"I'm feeling really, really good...I can't wait to get mobile again so I can get back in the office."

He's given himself a June deadline.

"I have to, to maintain my presidency," he said.

Go to: Waikato Times



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