Lol looks forward to a new year

HIS life was turned upside-down by a devastating crash that left the former Ipswich speedway star paralysed from the chest down.By rights Lol Hare should still be in hospital this Christmas, but he proved the doctors wrong.

By Jessica Nicholls

HIS life was turned upside-down by a devastating crash that left the former Ipswich speedway star paralysed from the chest down.

By rights Lol Hare should still be in hospital this Christmas, but he proved the doctors wrong.

Health reporter JESSICA NICHOLLS caught up with him as he reflected on his year and what the New Year might bring.

It seems nothing short of a miracle that former speedway rider Lol Hare was able to celebrate Christmas in Ipswich surrounded by family and friends.

Earlier this year, following his accident which left him paralysed from the chest down, doctors told him he would be lucky if he got home for the festive season.

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The determined 33-year-old, who celebrated his birthday on Monday, showed what he was made of and has now been back at home for two months.

Christmas Day was spent with his family. Lol is now looking ahead to 2003 and hoping that it will be a better year than last.

To say he has been through a lot in 2002 is something of an understatement.

Now he is trying to look to the future and to gain his independence to such a degree that he does not have to rely so heavily on family, friends and carers.

There has been much support for Lol from many people in the town and around who have rallied to raise more than £125,000 for him to add to the Lawrence Hare Support Fund which was set up by his family and The Evening Star soon after the crash.

That money will go towards the rebuilding of his life and being able to cope when there is no one around.

Now Lol wants to say thank-you and wish a happy Christmas and New Year to all those who have been there for him.

He said: "I can't believe the amount of support that I have had. It has been phenomenal."

Life has been one long rollercoaster for him this year as despite his heroic achievements since the crash he has also had to deal with a lot of down-spells.

He feels now that he has lead two lives, the one before the accident and the one that he is living now.

It was while he was competing in a speedway race in Newport, South Wales, on April 14 that he was involved in the crash that was to change his life.

It left him paralysed from the chest down. Through the year the Evening Star has followed his progress.

A major operation at the Royal Gwent Hospital enabled him to move his arms again and his

determination has pulled him through to achieve things doctors told him he probably never would.

He can now move his fingers and has recently found that he can move his thumb on his right hand.

The last few months of this year have been an intense learning experience for Lol. He has had to be re-taught how to do the most basic things that he would have once taken for granted.

He said: "I am learning things every day.

"I have to learn different things that will make my life easier.

"There are also things that really get you down, like learning that you can't do what you used to do."

Lol is hoping that next year his home will be fully adapted to enable him to have some

independence and not have to rely on people being around for him for simple tasks such as making a cup of tea.

He said: "I can't cook for myself and it takes so much longer for me to do anything myself.

"If the house were kitted-out I would be able to do things for myself and be a bit more independent."

One bit of independence that did come his way was his specially- adapted Chrysler car.

He has already done 3,000 miles in it, driving himself down to Exeter to visit friends and driving around the town.

Lol has even been going back to see speedway races and hopes to get to more of the country's tracks next year. His progress is astounding, considering that by rights he should still be in hospital.

After spending two months in Newport, Lol was transferred to Stoke Mandeville Hospital where he was given extensive physio-therapy sessions, made determined efforts in the gym and was taught how to get himself in and out of his wheelchair.

It was there that he made many friends and he is still in touch with them. He said: "Sometimes when I go back to the hospital I still see some people who were in there before I was."

The nursing staff and other patients became like a family to him and he said that eventually he would like to raise some money himself for the hospital.

Lol spent a few weekends at home when he was in hospital rather than being discharged straight away.

He said: "I used to be quite glad to get back to hospital but then gradually I realised I did not want to go back there.

"When I first came home I was on quite a high and had loads of friends coming to see me."

So much has happened to Lol since the crash.

He said: "It feels like yesterday but it also feels so long ago. It is difficult to describe to people how it feels, going out one day and not coming home for seven months.

"I have made some good friends and you really realise the value of family and friends."

n To make a donation send a cheque, made payable to The Evening Star Lol Hare Appeal, to Geraldine Thompson, Editor's Secretary, Lol Hare Appeal, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN.