Reunited with the man who saved his life

By Charlotte Oliver, January 30, 2014
Jonny Benjamin (left) with Neil Laybourn

Jonny Benjamin (left) with Neil Laybourn

A former JFS student has been reunited with the stranger who saved his life, weeks after launching a national appeal to find him .

Six years ago, Jonny Benjamin was ready to jump Waterloo Bridge into the Thames, when a passer-by approached him and persuaded him to think again .

They did not exchange names or numbers, but Mr Benjamin, 26 – who has schizoaffective disorder – always credited the mystery man for saving his life and launched the Find Mike campaign to thank him personally.

Now the stranger has come forward, after recognising the story when it hit the headlines earlier this month across the UK.

Neil Laybourn, a 31-year-old personal trainer from Surrey, contacted Rethink Mental Illness, the charity supporting Mr Benjamin, and they finally got together this week.

“I couldn’t believe it ," Mr Laybourn said. “I was so pleased to see how well Jonny was doing. I had thought about him over the years and had always hoped he was OK.

“When we met, it was clear how much that encounter on the bridge meant to him .

“I didn’t feel it was that big a deal. I did what anyone would do.”

For Mr Benjamin, who lives in Stanmore, coming face to face with Neil was like “winning the lottery”.

He added: “It means the world to finally have the opportunity to say thank you.”

Mr Benjamin is making a documentary about his search in partnership with Rethink Mental Illness, which will be released in April.

He said he and Mr Laybourn have promised to keep in touch.

Last updated: 4:48pm, January 30 2014