Great Britain

22-year-old who was left paralysed from the waist down to push wheelchair 25km to help young carers

A 22-YEAR-old who was left paralysed from the waist down after a motorbike accident is looking to mark the progress he has made by raising money to help young carers.

It is a little over a year since Guisborough’s Sam Watson, returned home after a six-month stay in hospital.

Now the Mr Watson, whose life changed forever when he ploughed into the back of a tipper truck at the top of Yearby Bank, is looking to raise money.

On July 29, 2019 Mr Watson broke his back, neck and pelvis, leaving him hospitalised in James Cook University Hospital where his lengthy stay included eight days in a coma.

He said: “I am very lucky, I have to remember that, and it could have been worse. I am very stubborn. I have cracked on with it since day one, you do get down days, I won’t lie, but I think the best way to deal with it is to crack on.

“At the end of the day I am lucky to be alive, I have to take what I can get. Being in a wheelchair isn’t as bad as everyone thinks. I never have to ask for a seat in a pub, I always tend to get parked.

“I could have been neck down paralysed and over the past year my independence has grown. I do everything for myself, I drive, I look after my four-year-old girl. We are in the process of getting the house adapted now to make everything better for us all.”

It is that positive mindset which has encouraged Mr Watson to raise money for young carers as part of the UChangeLives25 drive created by the PFC Trust, founded by lottery winners Frances and Patrick Connolly.

Mr Watson is one of more than 60 individuals and groups to have taken on a challenge centred on the number 25; a figure highlighting how many hours on average young carers work without getting paid every week.

He is going to push his self-propelled wheelchair 25km in 25 days to help raise £50,000 for a new respite caravan for Hartlepool and Stockton carers – and the drive is already halfway there before the April 2 deadline.

Mr Watson appreciates what young carers have to do, even though he is determined to make sure his own daughter, Amelia Grace, and his fiancée Sarah, are not relied on too heavily.

He said: “Amelia Grace doesn’t do more than any other girl needs to her age."

Mr Watson who was due to marry this year until Covid-19 struck.

He said: “[Amelia] helps out as much as she can, but I wouldn’t say any more than any other four-year-old would.

“The reason I am doing this is because I can see how having a young carer would have such a huge impact. Sarah and Amelia having to look after me was bad enough when I was adjusting when I first came out of hospital.

“I have been through the full spectrum of care. Being a young carer is above and beyond what anyone would expect. People in that area, incredible, especially the younger ones - putting washing on, emptying the dishwasher. It is unreal to think that is how they live their lives.”

It was on February 11 last year when Sam finally left hospital after his horrible accident at 20mph on his way back from a shift as Redcar Coastguard volunteer in the summer of 2019.

This month he will celebrate his 23rd birthday and he is successfully rebuilding his life, having secured employment in the public sector too.

Mr Watson said: “The day of my crash I got offered a job as a police officer. I received an email 30 minutes earlier, I wouldn’t have hit the truck if I had stopped to read the email.

“But I am fortunate I can still use my hands and arms. I broke my neck and back and should have had a severe head injury.

“Now I have got involved with Frances, the PFC Trust and this challenge. It’s less about the money, it is giving it the recognition it deserves, giving a spotlight to those who deserve it.

“There’s so much doom and gloom around. It would be so nice to see people who deserve it given something back, like a respite caravan. £50,000 is not a small amount of money, but the amount of people coming together is awe inspiring.

“My challenge is helping me too, with shielding it is encouraging me to do more daily exercise than I normally would. I don’t push 1km in a day normally.

“I have a planned route around the estate, it’s about 1.2km, so a little over what I need to do. Hopefully pushing myself for 25 days in a row will help raise that £50,000 to help others. It would mean a lot.”

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