Remarkable fight back of young golfer who was told he may never walk again
PUBLISHED: 06:30 28 August 2014 | UPDATED: 11:30 28 August 2014
Archant Norfolk 2014
He was told he may never walk again.
But just nine months after a car crash which broke his back and threatened to shatter his dreams, 23-year-old Richard Lindley is well on the road to recovery and looking to resurrect his budding professional golf career.
Mr Lindley was told by a doctor at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge that he had a 50/ 50 chance of being able to walk again the day after the crash, but later discovered his chances were much less than that.
Mr Lindley, who lives in Fulmodeston, said: “When I saw the same doctor months later for a check-up he told me was being kind to give me hope and the odds were far greater against me.
“They have a zero to four scale to make an assessment on my chances. I was in zero.”
Mr Lindley said he felt his car slip on mud before he crashed head-on into a hedge at Saxthorpe while on his way to work in Aylsham. No other vehicles were involved.
He had no feeling in his legs and had to be cut from the car.
Mr Lindley was taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and was transferred to Addenbrooke’s that evening where he had an operation the next morning.
He stayed at Addenbrooke’s for 10 days before being transferred to a spinal injuries unit in Sheffield where he was told he would need to stay for three months, but left after just five weeks.
Mr Lindley said: “I was out of there faster than any of the physios had ever seen.
“I told them I wanted them to push me hard and they did.
“I remember my dad putting his head in his hands when he first saw me, but when I got movement in my legs, he said he knew I’d walk again.”
Forty-nine days after the crash, Mr Lindley could walk short distances unaided for the first time.
He moved back home with his parents in Barnsley, where he is originally from, and a combination of physiotherapy and swimming five times a week helped build up his strength and confidence.
Mr Lindley, who has a titanium plate in his back to support his spine, returned to work at Budgens supermarket in Aylsham, where he is a fresh foods supervisor, on May 28.
He has recently started playing golf again and enjoyed his first round with no pain on Tuesday.
He is back living in Fulmodeston, is continuing physiotherapy in North Walsham and is expected to make a full recovery.
Mr Lindley, a member of Fakenham Golf Club, had just started playing professional tournaments before he had the crash.
He said: “I’ve played golf since I was two and I’ve always been active.
“I wouldn’t be able to cope if I couldn’t walk again. The whole experience just felt like a nightmare.
“I kept pretending it wasn’t really happening, that’s what got me through it mentally.
“Physically I don’t know how I defied the odds. They said being young helped. I’m incredibly lucky.”
He added: “Returning to driving has been very scary and I have to go past the site where I had my crash every day.
“But I’m getting used to having a normal life again.
“Hopefully this time next year I’ll be preparing for a European golf tour.”
Mr Lindley’s father John, 69, said: “Richard has always had that determination to keep going.
“He was a Yorkshire and Humberside junior golf champion and has also been a county champion in hockey.
“I thought if anyone can do it, Richard can.”
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