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Leading article: Accidental heroes

There will be those who examine the latest NHS statistics which record the many bizarre ways in which we managed to get ourselves admitted to hospital in 2007-08 and wonder if someone out there is trying to tell us something.

They will look at the 54 people attacked by snakes, the 20 bitten by venomous spiders, and the unfortunate man treated after being mauled by a crocodile, and conclude that the safest course of action is to stay at home with the curtains drawn, nursing a comforting mug of cocoa.

Not us though. We consider it a vindication of the questing British spirit that 15 people were injured by volcano last year. And even better, 12 pensioners were admitted after falling out of trees. They might have picked up a few bruises, but how can such a statistic fail to heal a weary spirit?

Life, in the opinion of some scientists, is a cosmic accident. Health and safety be damned. The people on this list were only doing what comes naturally.