My most treasured possession? Kieron Dyer’s England cap, says former Newmarket Town footballer Shaun Whiter
PUBLISHED: 14:42 23 October 2018 | UPDATED: 14:45 23 October 2018
Shaun Whiter lost both his legs in a horrific car accident. But East Anglia healed him, he tells Gina Long
Shaun Whiter is aiming to compete in the Paralympics after a road accident in Newmarket changed his life.�
Because of his terrible injuries, Shaun had to have both legs amputated. Just over a year after losing his legs, he fulfilled his ambition of walking down the aisle to marry Charlotte. After an astonishing two years, Shaun aged 30, has now set his sights on the Paris Paralympics 2024.
Shaun helps coach young footballers at ITFC, and is a proud Ambassador of GeeWizz Charity. The former Newmarket FC footballer went against all his own expectations and completed a 150-cycle ride, raising thousands of pounds for East Anglian Air Ambulance and the Friends of Ipswich Town Football Club.
What is your connection to East Anglia?
My beautiful wife Charlotte. She has lived in East Anglia all her life. We were house hunting at the time of my accident and since then the support from everybody in East Anglia has been fantastic. I cannot see myself living anywhere else. So, thank you East Anglia.
What is your East Anglian Heaven ie what do you love most about East Anglia?
The greenery. I love living in an area where it’s not too built up. We live in the Newmarket area It is surrounded by horse owners, with their incredible stables and land to train their horses each day.
What is your East Anglian Hell ie what you hate most about living here?
I love the Newmarket Night Race meetings. It’s great to see everyone dressed up and having a good time. But getting out of the race-course can be a nightmare.
What’s your favourite East Anglian restaurant?
The Weeping Willow in Barrow, I have only been once and sat at what they call the chef’s table watching all the food being prepared. I was very impressed at how hard the chefs work. I’m quite fussy, but would eat everything off the menu.
What’s your favourite way to spend an East Anglian evening?
Having just moved into our first house, Charlotte and I like to entertain. We’ve had the best summer weather and have had many BBQ’s.It’s been a great way of catching up with friends and family.
What’s your favourite East Anglian landmark?
I wouldn’t say it’s a landmark, but it’s a happy place for me and that’s Newmarket football club. It was the last place I got to play football and I still go to support the lads every so often. The club and the players have been fantastic and always make me welcome.
What’s the best thing that happens in East Anglia every year?
There is a local charity event close to me in the village of Dullingham that raises money for various charities in memory of a well-liked man called Hookey who cycled everywhere. You cycle an 18 mile loop with over 100 other cyclists, laughing and joking with the odd stop at a local pub and then back to the start for a BBQ.
What your specialist Mastermind subject?
I think I would have to say general sport questions. I like the TV programme Question of Sport.
What is always in your fridge?
Petit Filous yoghurt I love them. I sometimes eat all six in one go!
What’s your simple philosophy of life?
I got told this by someone once, two words WHY and HOW. When you can work out the WHY the HOW is the easy part, I take this into consideration with everything I do. Be it, ‘why did I want to walk again’ and ‘how did I do this’, by attending every rehab session available. If I didn’t go I only had myself to blame.
What’s your favourite film?
It’s a film called Remember the Titans, starring Denzel Washington. It brings sport and race together and highlights a lot of problems still going on today.
What was your first job?
When I was at school I had a daily paper round. It’s still my favourite ever job. It gave me a chance to keep fit and earn some money to pay for my football boots.
What is your most treasured possession?
I’m quite a simple person and don’t have many materialistic things, but after my accident, Kieron Dyer gave me one of his England Caps and I have recently just had it framed and put up in my house. It sounds harsh to say, he didn’t get many caps, so for him to give me this something he worked so hard for, it says so much about him as a person and I won’t forget it.
Who do you admire most?
My prosthetist Jamie Gilespie, he is a fellow amputee, sadly he lost his leg in an accident. Since his accident he has gone onto re-train and learn a different skill, one that helps people like me to walk again. Jamie has shown me I can do everything I was doing before my accident and more. I don’t just class him as my prosthetist, he is my friend.
What is your biggest indulgence?
Chicken wings! No matter where I am, if I see them I just have to have them! It’s weird I know.
What do you like about yourself most?
I have to say my new legs. I am very grateful to be walking again and having the opportunity to carry on with my life. I am constantly learning how to use them, they are a fantastic bit of equipment and I look forward to seeing where the technology goes in years to come.
What’s your worst character trait?
I don’t know when to stop, be it talking training or rehab. I am slowly learning to listen to people more and listen to my body when its saying stop.
Where is your favourite holiday destination?
There is a small resort in Albufeira Portugal called Val de lobo. I went when I was younger and it is a place one day I will go to again.
Best day of your life?
Has to be my wedding, to be able to achieve my goal of walking down the aisle and even better walking out of the church with my best friend. Then to have a great celebration with the friends and family, who all helped me to walk down the aisle. To top it off, the incredible East Anglian Air Ambulance flew over as we were leaving the church. It was very emotional, as they were the ones who saved my life.
What’s your favourite breakfast?
I have to be careful with my weight, but I love a sausage and bacon sandwich. Another weird eating habit, I love a mix of red and brown sauce!
What’s your favourite tipple?
I love nothing better than a cold Guinness and if you are buying even better!
What’s your hidden talent?
I always save this for when on a table of guests. I can make two things out of a napkin. One is a chicken and the others a bit rude to say here! So I will have to show you in person.
When were you most embarrassed?
Having to sit through my Best Man’s speech on my Wedding Day knowing that your Mum and Dad are sitting next to you and all your secrets are being revealed.
What’s your earliest memory?
I remember a family holiday to Lanzarote, sitting at a bar eating the iced ring doughnuts. I ate two or three. I must have been a nightmare afterwards with all the sugar!
What song would you like played at your funeral?
Paint the Town Green by The Script. I want something lively and to get people smiling.
Tell us something people don’t know about you?
I’m neither left or right footed.
What’s the worst thing anyone has ever said to you?
After the accident, some social media troll said, ‘Why didn’t you call the AA, then it wouldn’t have happened’. It’s easy to sit behind a computer and type these hurtful things, but these comments only make me stronger.
Tell us why you live here and nowhere else.
Since walking on the prosthetics, I have developed a hatred for hills. It’s very tough for me to walk down ramps and steep slopes and being in East Anglia is mainly very flat, so I love it. In all seriousness, I am so grateful to everyone who has been in support of me and my friend Joey, who was also injured. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am now. I can’t see myself living anywhere else.
What do you want to tell our readers about most?
I have mentioned it before, a big thank you to everybody who has been there for both me and Joey. But not just our accident, the loved ones closest to individuals who are currently going through a bad time. These people have to deal with just as much pain and struggle and I know for sure that Joey and I would not be where we are now, without our families and most of all our wives Charlotte and Harriet.