On Mother’s Day, in March 2013, I was critically injured in a cycling accident in Westerham near Sevenoaks in Kent.
I was 48-years-old at the time and was out for a 30-mile Sunday ride which I did fairly regularly to keep fit. I was heading down Westerham Hill, which is the fastest part of the route and came off my bike. It was a hill I must have previously cycled down safely 200 times, at least.
Initially at the scene of the accident I was looked after by police officers who were very quick to arrive and by a ground ambulance crew. I’d injured my head and my chest and given the extent of my injuries, KSS were dispatched.
Their team cared for me and took me to major trauma centre at King’s College hospital, arriving within 16 minutes of take off. I then spent a month in King’s College Hospital and Princess Royal University hospitals, being looked after brilliantly by the staff at both places.
I’ve never known why my accident happened and even eight and a half years on, it’s never bothered me much that I don’t know. Within a couple of days of waking up in hospital I was thinking ‘The important thing is that I’m still alive; now I need to look forwards. I just need to recover and get back to my normal life.’
From that point my recovery has been slow but steady although I can still feel some of the side effects now. I fractured my skull going back from my right eyebrow and can still feel a strange numbness on that part of my head and sometimes an ache in my neck from the force of the impact. I’ve been told it’s a sort of whiplash injury to the nerves at the top of my spine. I’m glad I was wearing a helmet at the time, which saved me from even worse injury.
My mental recovery has always been as important to me as my physical recovery. Over time I ticked things off like cycling again, going swimming, then getting back to work after four months. Flying to Sweden to see my family there, was another really important milestone for me, which I did less than a year after my accident.
I know that all of this was only made possible because KSS were there for me that day.
After four years I decided I could take on a more significant physical challenge, so I entered the Hever Castle Triathlon to raise money for KSS. I’d done triathlons years before, but had really thought I’d hung up my wetsuit for good.
Getting through the training and completing the race proved that any aches and pains I might still have shouldn’t stop me from getting outside and taking on new challenges.
For a while afterwards, I was short of a good idea for what to do next, but that changed after an air ambulance event in 2018 where I spoke to other fundraisers.
That meant I was motivated to both visit the charity for the first time and come up with a new idea for fundraising.
I love the north Kent coast and after much thought I decided I’d try to walk solo, 100 miles from Botany Bay near Broadstairs to the Queen Elizabeth the Second bridge at the Dartford Crossing.
I’d never done any long-distance walking, but I wanted a challenge that would be testing enough raise interest with potential sponsors.
After a series of training walks, I decided that a reasonable plan would be to walk 25 miles a day for four days.
So in June 2019, with a good luck card from KSS in my rucksack, I started my walk on a sunny Monday morning at Botany Bay. Over four days I walked from there to my finishing point under the southern end of the QEII bridge near Dartford.
As I looked up at it, I was so pleased, not just because I’d raised money, but also because I’d had such an adventure doing something that I never would have contemplated without that motivation.
Since then, every moment of my walk is a brilliant memory and I must be the number one fan of that bridge. It’s surprising just how many places it can be seen from. Sometimes from miles and miles away. I hope that before too long I’ll be able to come up with something else I’ll enjoy so much.
I’d say I still feel some effects from my accident but that was the point of my triathlon and walk – to challenge myself and make the most of my life and opportunities that come up. I’m 56-years-old now and know very well that people of all ages have different physical challenges they have to live with.