Norwich DJ battles on after losing arm

A Norwich DJ who had a dream job performing before thousands of holidaymakers every night on a Mediterranean island has fought back from a near-death road crash which cost him his right arm.

Despite his injury 23-year-old Matt Howes, of Harewood Drive, Thorpe Marriott, has seen his career continue to flourish and has now spoken out about the terrifying moment he almost lost his life.

The former Taverham High and Access to Music Norwich student was travelling between two villages in Crete at 5pm on July 4 when his life changed forever.

As he turned a blind corner on his moped he met a car overtaking on his side of the road. He had to swerve and flew straight into a metal barrier.

He said: 'I'll never forget the look on the ambulance man's face – a look that will stay with me the rest of my life. It was one of complete shock and put into perspective how serious the situation was.'

Matt, right, who has previously worked at Phones4U in Norwich city centre, spent 36 hours in intensive care but the team of four surgeons were unable to save his right arm. Surgeons told him he had been the most difficult case they had dealt with in six months.

Matt said: 'It was revealed later that the only reason I didn't die that day is because the dirt and grit from the road clogged up my artery – stopping the bleeding.'

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Back home his 16-year-old sister Becca received the phone call informing her of the crash, and she had to pass the message on to mum Mandy Bargewell and step-dad Terry, who had both just landed in Gran Canaria.

Mrs Bargewell, 48, a nurse at Burlingham House, said: 'I can't begin to explain the feelings we had in Gran Canaria unable to get to him having been told that he might die. It was horrendous.'

Mr and Mrs Bargewell were by Matt's bedside three days later and were able to watch as, to the astonishment of the surgeons, he began to start walking again, despite a scarred foot.

Seven days after the accident he was discharged, and one week later he returned to perform to over 1,000 people at his resident club Candy before returning home.

Matt said: 'I knew before I returned to the UK to receive medical attention I wanted to DJ in my club just to prove I could do it. It was mind over matter.'

He added: 'It was amazing. It was the best night ever. I was so full of emotion.

'When I came off the decks I got a round of applause from most people in the club, and had to focus not to cry.'

This week Matt had another emotional night as he performed in front of a number of old school friends at Tao nightclub, in Prince of Wales Road, in Norwich.

He said: 'I say to them that life goes on, there is always someone out there in a worse position.

'If I stay in my room and cry myself to sleep every night over my lost right arm, I would not be truly appreciating that life is a gift in itself.'

He added his motto since the crash has been 'everything happens for a reason'.

He said: 'You can't be selfish and wish things did not happen. No matter how much I want to have my right arm, it's not coming back.'

It was the third summer Matt had been performing in Malia, having worked his way up to the resort's biggest club Candy, alongside the likes of Tim Westwood and Tinie Tempah.

He first started DJing when he was 14, turning professional in 2008. In 2010 he worked 143 consecutive nights without a day off and was seeing his reputation flourish having also worked in Tenerife and Bulgaria, and performed across the UK as well as Norwich clubs Mercy, Liquid, Optic and Lava Ignite.

Since the crash he has spent a lot of time with Tim Westwood at Radio 1 and on New Year's Eve he will be starting an international tour with Lisa Mafia and Romeo in Dubai. He hopes to be a DJ for the rest of his life.

He said: 'I'd like to be in a position to make a difference to people who may not be so open-minded as one might expect.

'I think we're all guilty of double taking someone you would not deem as 'normal', but just because I lost my right arm in a bike accident does not mean I am a walking zombie.'

•Have you defied the odds to succeed? Contact reporter Richard Wood on 01603 772423 or email

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