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October 1962

Boy boffin loses hand
   Richard Unsworth, aged 14, of 5 Riverside Avenue, Whelley, had his right hand amputated in an operation at Wigan Infirmary on Wednesday. Richard's hand was badly mutilated last Friday night in an accident involving a home-made firework and he lost a finger and a thumb.
   The condition of the boy's hand deteriorated this week and an Infirmary spokesman said yesterday: "An operation was performed on Wednesday and it was found necessary to amputate the right hand."
   Richard, who is described by his mother as "gunpowder mad", was experimenting with a mixture of weed killer and sugar packed into a metal tube. When he struck the metal tube with a hammer it exploded.
   The explosion brought people in and around Riverside Avenue rushing to their doors. An ambulance was called and the boy was taken to Wigan Infirmary.
   Richard displayed great fortitude when seen by a Wigan Observer reporter in the casualty department at the hospital. From a stretcher, he said: "Please tell other boys not to bother with gunpowder. It's not worth it."
   He will be able to continue his studies at Wigan Grammar School as, fortunately, he writes with his left hand.
   Police confiscated two other home-made fireworks of the type involved in the accident.
   Richard's mother, Mrs. Ellen Unsworth said: "Richard is gunpowder mad and he's always experimenting. He asked me for some of the weed killer earlier in the week but I would not give it to him as I knew he wanted to make gunpowder. But he got hold of some without my knowledge. I'm not saying this because my son has been hurt but I don't think young boys should be able to but stuff like this unless they sign for it and say why they want it. I hope my son's mishap will be a lesson to other boys."
   The boy's condition is "satisfactory".

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