Crash rider: Neck brace saved my life

TEENAGE motorcyclist Martin Townshend is today back on his feet and looking forward to getting back in the saddle despite an horrific accident.And he puts his survival down to a revolutionary new neck brace which prevented him from suffering spinal injuries when he came off his bike at a motocross event at Blythburgh.

TEENAGE motorcyclist Martin Townshend is today back on his feet and looking forward to getting back in the saddle despite an horrific accident.

And he puts his survival down to a revolutionary new neck brace which prevented him from suffering spinal injuries when he came off his bike at a motocross event at Blythburgh.

The 18-year-old motorcyclist had to be airlifted to hospital by the air ambulance.

But amazingly he was able to walk out of the casualty department of the James Paget Hospital at Gorleston within hours.

He cannot ride a bike for another two weeks because he still feels light-headed - but the season is over and he will spend the winter preparing for next year.

Martin, who lives near Diss, is full of praise for the £300 Leatt neck brace he was wearing - and said everyone taking part in the sport should wear one.

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“If I had not been wearing one of those, I could have been killed and would almost certainly have broken my neck,” he said.

“It holds your head firmly in place so you don't suffer catastrophic injury if you come off the bike - I'm telling everyone in the sport how important it is to get one of these.”

The day after the accident there was a run on the braces and they are now in short supply, although new supplies are due to arrive in this country well before the start of the next motocross season.

Martin, who won the Schoolboy 125s championship of the Norwich and District Motocross Club this year, said: “Word has quickly got around about how the brace saved me from serious injury and now everyone in sport it seems wants to get hold of one.

“There are rules being introduced requiring motocross riders to wear these as safety measures, but they are not coming in just yet - but my advice would be to get a brace as soon as you can.

“They may sound quite expensive at £300, but that's a lot cheaper than life in a wheelchair - or even worse.”

Martin can remember nothing about the accident.

“I can remember the previous lap and then there is nothing until I woke up in hospital. I'm still a bit tired and I can't ride at the moment.

“But my season has finished anyway and I'll be ready for next year - I'm already looking forward to that.”

Leatt neck braces can be bought at specialist stores or from a number of internet retailers.

Have you been saved by safety equipment? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Laurie Squirrell, from Hitcham, was paralysed from the waist down after she came off her bike during a motocross event in America.

Today she urged everyone taking part in the sport to use a neck brace.

Laurie, 19, said: “If the Leatt brace had been around when I had my accident, I would definitely have had one.

“From what I've heard these are very good - it's just the kind of thing that all riders should use.”

And Simon Gray from the East Anglian Air Ambulance Service said he would always urge motorcyclists to wear any safety equipment available.

He said: “We were delighted to learn that in this case the injuries were not serious, but we always go out if there is a danger of spinal injuries.

“We do get a lot of calls to motorcycle injuries and any equipment to make motorcycling safer is very important.”

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