Man recovers from coma for marathon swim

AFTER defying the medical odds stacked up against him a crash victim is today preparing to take to the water for the Great East Swim after doctors warned he may never walk again.

AFTER defying the medical odds stacked up against him a crash victim is today preparing to take to the water for the Great East Swim after doctors warned he may never walk again.

Martin Hawkins, of Stewart Young Grove, Kesgrave, was just 24 years old when his life was turned upside down.

Now 44, the keen swimmer has fought back against his extensive injuries learning to read, write and walk again.

Today, dressed in his wetsuit, the former BT employee is taking on the challenge of a mile-long swim at Alton water to help the brain injury charity Headway and other organisations that have played a vital role in his amazing recovery.

In April 1989 Mr Hawkins, was standing on a curb in Norwich Road waiting to cross the road.

But in a matter of seconds his life was altered forever. He was hit by a swerving car, knocking him out.

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His parents sat agonising at his bedside as he lay in a stable coma as doctors warned them he may not recover, preparing them for the devastating prospect of turning off his life support.

Repeatedly doctors warned his parents he may not improve and repeatedly Mr Hawkins stunned them.

Branded a “medical miracle,” he woke up from the coma after just two months.

Mr Hawkins, describing the impact the accident had on his life, said: “In theory I shouldn't be here at all. I used to be reasonably sporty, I played indoor cricket for a team and was quite good at football, I had a good life. I don't remember anything at all about the accident.

“I was more depressed early on. If I did not have my friends and family there for me things would have been a lot harder.

“I came to understand how people could get to the point where they consider suicide. My world was completely gone.”

He added: “I had to be re-introduced to the world, my parents and family. I had to learn to read and write again and after a while I started to learn to walk again.

“It was like being a young child again, everything was new and exciting, everything was an achievement, I felt like I was coming on leaps and bounds.

“I tried football again but was rubbish compared to how I used to play, I had nothing to compare swimming to, before the accident I just used to swim for leisure.”

After winning medals and trophies for swimming in the years since the accident, today will be the first open water swim Mr Hawkins has tackled.

MR Hawkins is raising money for four different organisations that have been integral to his recovery. The money will be divided between Headway, a national brain injury association his church the Martlesham Christian Fellowship, Avocet handicapped swimming and social club and his former employer BT's retired staff section.

“I am raising money for them as a sort of payback for the good things they have done helping me recover.”

If you would like to sponsor Martin please call him on 07544986583.

The British Gas Great East Swim is a one mile, mass participation open water swim.

It is taking place at Alton Water today from 9am with more than 1,500 people taking part.

Groups of approximately 200 swimmers will enter the water, with a 30 minute interval between each group.

The field of swimmers will include celebrities such as Ireland's long-distance runner Sonia O'Sullivan and Maxwell Caulfied, who plays Mark Wylde in Emmerdale.

Another swimmer taking part is taking on the challenge in memory of two friends who lost their lives in Afghanistan.

British world champion Keri-Anne Payne and Olympic bronze 10km open-water medallist Cassie Patten will also take part.

This event is the final in the four part Great Swim series across the UK. In total around 10,000 will have tackled the mile-long distance across the country.

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