Farmer, 89, was almost killed by his own vintage tractor – now he’s selling the entire collection
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
An 89-year-old Norfolk farmer is lucky to be alive after being run over by his own vintage tractor – and now he's putting his entire collection up for sale.
Eddie Thompson, from Attleborough, suffered horrific injuries including breaks to his ankles, legs, pelvis and shoulder after his 1960s Fordson Major lurched into life while he was tinkering with its starter motor in March.
Doctors warned his family that he may not survive.
But now he's back on his feet, he's got no regrets about putting his entire 70-strong collection of classic tractors up for auction – including the one which put him in hospital for four months.
'I'm happy to see the back of them now, because I can't do anything with them,' he said.
The accident happened when Mr Thompson was trying to start a tractor he had bought two weeks earlier. While fixing the solenoid on the starter motor he thought he had put the machine in neutral – but a faulty gearbox meant it was still in gear.
'When it started up it just went 'vroom' and knocked me down and ran over my ankles, legs, shoulder, arm and pelvis,' he said. 'If it had run over my head I wouldn't be here. There was some damage to internal organs as well. I was absolutely black and blue.'
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Fortunately his brother Richard was on site, and called the ambulance. Mr Thompson spent four months in the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and Ogden Court Community Hospital in Wymondham.
'They called me the 'man of steel',' he said. 'I was not expected to survive, that is what they told my wife. And if I did survive, they said I would be lucky to walk again. I do feel lucky to still be about.'
Mr Thompson's son Roger, who runs a mortgage advice firm in Attleborough, said: 'The diagnosis when we first got to the hospital was pretty bleak.
'There were more breaks on that X-ray than on a jigsaw puzzle. We just thought: 'He is not going to survive this'. We were preparing for the worst, but he just keeps proving everybody wrong.
'We couldn't comprehend what to do with a tractor collection of this size. I am just quite relieved that he wants to see it sold, and get the pleasure of seeing these machines go to good homes.'
Mr Thompson, who celebrates his 60th wedding anniversary with wife Mary this week, had worked on the farm at Morley St Peter near Attleborough since leaving school at the age of 16.
He started collecting tractors, mostly David Brown models, in 1995 after suffering a heart attack, which prompted the sale of most of the farm's land.
'David Brown tractors were not popular in the area and it was expensive to have people come and repair them,' he said. 'I liked repairing them, so I thought I would collect tractors, or buy rough tractors and repair them so they're in running order.'
The auction of 70 tractors includes 55 David Browns and rarities including two aircraft tug tractors, one made in 1952 which was used on an RAF base in Germany, and one from 1941 which saw service at an East Anglian airfield during the Second World War.
• The sale takes place on November 3 from 10am at College Farm in Morley St Peter, with viewings on the day before and the morning of the sale. For more details see the HJ Pugh and Co website.