Biker fights back after horror crash

IPSWICH: Motorbikes are the love of his life - but Russel Smith today revealed how his passion left him close to death.

IPSWICH: Motorbikes are the love of his life - but Russel Smith today revealed how his passion left him close to death.

The devoted Ipswich biker painfully accepts he may never ride again after he was left paralysed in a “freak accident” six weeks ago while driving his beloved Honda XBR 500 along a Suffolk road.

The 68-year-old grandfather, of Goldsmith Road, spent two weeks in intensive care but is now beginning six months of rehabilitation at a specialist spinal injury hospital in London.

It has been a devastating blow to a lifelong association with motorbikes.

Mr Smith, who lives with his wife Jenny, first became hooked on the hobby at the age of ten, took a Saturday job at a motorcycle shop as a teenager and went on to make a living as a mechanic and instructor.

He now fears he may never be able to get back on a bike, although he admits to having already looked into whether he could eventually use one specially adapted for wheelchairs.

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He said: “Motorbikes are everything to me. I have been through the accident lots of times in my head and there is no specific reason why it happened.

“I have got to accept it and get on with it. I will get back into the sport one way or another.”

The father-of-three, who is also known as “pipe man” because he was often seen smoking, estimates he has travelled around 300,000 miles on bikes over his lifetime.

He was riding along the road between Coddenham and Ashbocking in August after marshalling a charity motorcycle ride when he clipped the verge and was sent catapulting into his handlebars.

Mrs Smith, 64, said: “He gets emotional when he sees his friends walking out of the door and he is sitting in the bed or in the wheelchair. It has been very hard for the family.”

Do you have a message of support for Mr Smith? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

MEMBERS of the biking community have been rallying around their “legend” of a friend to convince him there is a future after his accident.

Several clubs in the Ipswich area have also pitched together to buy him some home comforts for his difficult road to recovery.

Fred Cotton, the president of the Triangle Ipswich Motorcycle Club, where Mr Smith is a member, said: “He started to get really down so we helped him get motivated. We made him believe there is a future.

“He is well respected by all the motorcycle clubs in the area. He was always out doing things for charity but he ended up losing everything.”

They have bought the 68-year-old a DVD player to watch motorcycling programmes, an iPod and a mobile phone so he can keep in touch with his friends and family.

They also plan to visit him regularly during his six-month rehabilitation at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in London.

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