Spinal victim celebrates birth of baby girl and a more mobile life

Carl Brackley with Rachel and Sienna.

Carl Brackley with Rachel and Sienna.

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A motorcyclist left paralysed from the chest down after an accident has celebrated the birth of a baby girl and become more mobile thanks to a charity’s help.

Carl Brackley was seriously injured seven years ago but is now enjoying life at his Winslow home with his partner Rachel and baby Sienna, who was born in March.

Carl Brackley on his Batec bike.

Carl Brackley on his Batec bike.

And thanks to the spinal injury charity Aspire, he has an electric Batec bike which allows him to go to all the places he used to visit.

Carl said: “It’s really hilly around where I live. Propelling my wheelchair with my arms is so tiring and it’s near impossible to get up the steeper slopes.

“When I found out I’d been successful in part funding for the bike, it made me feel ‘wow’, just an amazing feeling. If I’d not been successful, I’d have had to wait a couple of years before being able to afford one myself.”

Carl, now 39, had an accident in 2009 when his motorbike skidded on mud, throwing him off into a ditch at the side of the road. He didn’t lose consciousness and immediately realised he couldn’t feel his legs. A passing motorist went to Carl’s aid and he was taken to Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

He said: “I remember asking whether I’d be in overnight, but the reality was that I stayed in their spinal injury centre for seven months.

“It was a crushing time. I had to learn how to do practically everything again.”

Months and years of operations and treatment followed and eventually he moved back home permanently, taking an office job back at the manufacturing firm he’d worked at before.

One of the couple’s biggest concerns was whether Carl would be able to start a family. After being rejected for IVF in the UK, the couple went to a clinic in the Czech Republic, and on the second attempt, Sienna was conceived.

Carl added: “Since receiving the grant from Aspire and getting the bike, life has turned itself around. It gives me far more independence. I can ‘nip’ to the shops and go virtually anywhere I choose. I can even go out in the dark and the best part is having the freedom to take my daughter out with me, and enjoy a relaxing time in the countryside.

“There’s no way I could push a pram at the same time as directing my wheelchair, so this gives me the ability to connect with Sienna and have precious one on one time with her without worrying about anything else. I am looking forward to exploring new places with my daughter.”

Carl was helped by Aspire thanks to money generated from its annual fundraising event, Aspire Channel Swim.

The 22-mile swim - the width of the English Channel - runs over 12 weeks, this year between September 12 and December 5, and participants take part in their local swimming pool when it is most convenient for them. The challenge is open to people of all capabilities and ages and is free to register. Funds raised go towards helping people like Carl – enabling them to buy equipment that will make their lives easier following a spinal cord injury – whether that be a wheelchair or assistive technology.

To register interest in swimming the Aspire Channel Swim 2016 visit http://aspirechannelswim.co.uk