Thanks to the generosity of hundreds who attended a fund-raising night in his honour, a 26-year-old paralysed in a motorbike accident last summer has put this behind him and is now racing ahead as a talented handcyclist.
It was only last June when Dan Metcalfe-Hall suffered a complete T8 spinal cord injury in a motorbike accident on the A151 at Edenham. After operations at Queen’s Medical Centre, he sped through his rehabilitation in just three and a half months at Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital.
Dan described the terrible moment he knew his bike was giving way. “I remember seeing gravel and tarmac flash past my face, and feeling and hearing a massive bang.” This was his friend and fellow motorcyclist crashing into him, leaving Dan trapped underneath a 200kg bike.
He adds: “It was just really lucky that the guy in the car waiting to turn down the junction of the bend, was a first responder who’d obviously had a fair bit of training. I’d like to thank him because without him, I’d be in trouble.”
Prior to this, Dan worked as a bricklayer for Dave King, whose building firm Dan describes as ‘more like a big family’. Dave said: “In 10 years he’s never let me down. He was being trained to take over from me. When I got the phone call from his dad Andy to say he’d been in an accident, it was like ‘you’ve got to be joking’.”
Consequently Dave and his wife Sam began organising a surprise fund-raising event to provide Dan with all the equipment he would need. Despite being told that without any advertising they would struggle to hit their £5,000 target, in just one night they raised over £11,000. They sold 240 tickets to the event hosted by Woody’s in Ancaster for free, which also saw numerous raffle prizes donated, and a ‘man auction’ where tradesmen offered up their time for free to raise £7,000 (see thank you letter below).
Yet at one point it looked like the main man might not make it, as Dan fell seriously ill on the day. Fortunately he was convinced to go on the pretence that he was joining a family meal, and says ‘It was awesome’ when he was surprised by a room full of friends, family, colleagues and customers to ‘For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow’.
He is also grateful to friends and family for helping him move into his new adapted home on Gloucester Road, where he lives with his partner Faye and four-year-old daughter Skye.
“You can’t do something like this without having that support.” He has also taken strength from the achievements of Talan Skeels-Piggins, who like him was paralysed in a motorcycling accident but soon began riding again.
“Like Talan says, during your time in hospital laid there you need to have a word with yourself, to say get up, get on with it. Otherwise you lie there and cry and nothing happens .”
His dad Andy said: “We’re all very, very proud of him. His attitude is just incredible. Literally just days after his accident he was saying ‘what’s the point of me crying about it?’ It’s done and I’ve got to get on with it.”
Now Dan wants to support others who have gone through similar experiences, including by volunteering as a wheelchair skills instructor with the charity Back-Up. He is also considering using his problem-solving and technical drawing skills from his previous job to become part of an adaptions team, and if this wasn’t enough, he is well on his way to a sporting career.
After meeting top handcyclists including Kenny Herriot and Chris Madden, he himself has begun training in a sport that has the same adrenalin-inducing attraction of motorcycling. “It’s a bike, it’s fast, and you’re low to the road,” he explains.
He has just taken part in an exhilarating handcycling session in Manchester, and is representing Sheffield at the Inter Spinal Unit Games at Stoke Mandeville in April. Dan also enjoys wheelchair tennis, and is working to set up an official disability sports club at Grantham Tennis Centre, which he praises for its accessibility. As Dave adds: “He was a grafter before it happened and he’s a grafter now.”
To get involved with the club’s creation, contact Dan on 07717 751734.
Meanwhile Dave is not done with fund-raising for his former employee’s ongoing rehabilitation and training. An experienced water-skier who alongside his day job runs a school at Tattershall Lakes, he plans to water-ski across the English Channel. He will soon be giving out sponsorship forms around Grantham, but can also be contacted on 07768 608861.
* Letter sent by Sam King
We would like to say thank you to everyone who donated to the appeal to help Dan Metcalfe-Hall, at a surprise party at Woodland Waters. In just one night we raised over £11,000.
Thank you to Woody’s, Premier Cru, Brendan and Sue King, Les and Wendy Stewart, Belton Golf Club, Belton Woods, CDA, Barry Matson, Flowers by Holland, Bridgestone’s, Whittakers, Jackie West, Howdens, Union Interiors, Grantham Beauty Clinic, New Era Restaurant, Hoppers, British Sport Photography, Wilkinson’s Jewellers, Charlotte Wesson, Paula Tennant, Halfords, WH Smith, Boots, Specsavers, Everest Inn, Glen Esk, Grantham Computer Centre, Crown Windows, mark Scott, Avanti Windows, Jewsons, Graves Jewellers, Holroyds sweet shop, The Boutique, DWB, BGB Engineering, Karl Temple-Fielder, MD DJewellers, Bilboes Cafe, Living Health, Cross Swords, Skillington, Syston Fruit Farm, Asda, Destiny Designs, Yes Electrical, Leeson Family Butchers, Rutland Lighting, Woodlines, Jacksons, Travis Perkins, Grantham Bowl, The Gift Box, Kevin Turton Photography, and anyone else I may have forgotten!
We were absolutely amazed by the support and generosity of these people.