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Liam Neeson in frantic dash to bedside of critically ill wife Natasha Richardson

Actor Liam Neeson was last night holding a desperate vigil at the bedside of his critically ill wife after she suffered a serious head injury while skiing in Canada.

The world-famous star was involved in a mercy dash to be by Natasha Richardson’s side after her fall while skiing in the Mont Tremblant resort.

The Tony Award-winning actress was last night understood to have been flown back to the US, where the couple live, after initially being taken to to a hospital near Station Mont Tremblant before she was transferred to Hopital du Sacre-Coeur in Montreal following her fall on Monday.

However, she was later transferred to an unknown hospital in America, according to Michelle Simard, spokeswoman for Hopital du Sacre-Coeur.

An agent for actress Vanessa Redgrave, Ms Richardson's mother, confirmed that the Ballymena-born Neeson had left the set of his latest film, Chloe, which is shooting in Toronto, to be with his wife. The veteran actress is looking after the couple's two sons at their home in New York.

It is thought Ms Richardson’s family intend to make a public statement on her condition later today. However, Kika Markham — wife of Ms Richardson’s uncle, Corin Redgrave — said the family were “very concerned.”

Among those keeping the 45-year-old actress in their thoughts yesterday was Mark Carruthers, chairman of the Lyric Theatre, of which Neeson is patron. It was at the Belfast theatre, currently closed for a massive renovation project, that the Ulster actor began his career.

“Liam is a big part of the Lyric family,” he said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Natasha, Liam and their family at this difficult time”.

A statement from the Mont Tremblant resort in Canada said Richardson had fallen in a beginners trail while taking a ski lesson.

“She was accompanied by an experienced ski instructor who immediately called the ski patrol,” it said. “She did not show any visible sign of injury but the ski patrol followed strict procedures and brought her back to the bottom of the slope and insisted she should see a doctor.

“As an additional precautionary measure, the ski instructor as well as the ski patrol accompanied Mrs Richardson to her hotel. They again recommended she should be seen by a doctor.

“The ski instructor stayed with her at the hotel.

“Approximately an hour after the incident, Mrs Richardson was not feeling good. An ambulance was called.”

The statement gave no details on Ms Richardson's condition or injuries.

Richardson is the daughter of Vanessa Redgrave and director Tony Richardson, and the sister of Nip/Tuck star Joely Richardson. She is the grand-daughter of Sir Michael Redgrave and the niece of Lynn Redgrave.

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