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Cycling commentator in fundraiser to mark 20 years since near fatal accident

Robyn Davies (centre) and some of the team who will be tackling the 150-mile cycle challenge for Spinal Research.

A cyclist who nearly died after being hit by a car 20 years ago is aiming to cycle 150 miles in a day across Wales to raise vital funds for spinal cord injury research.

Cycling has always been Robyn Davies’s passion and he regularly competed in road races across the UK and abroad before focusing on the triathlon in his late 20s. “I switched to triathlon as I really wanted to compete for Wales in the next Commonwealth Games.”

But that all changed in June 2004 when Robyn went out for an early Saturday morning ride. “My wife was due to give birth to our second child that day and I was also meant to help in the village show so I went out early.

“I remember going out on my bike and the next thing waking up from a coma five days later in hospital.”

Robyn had been hit by a car which over-shot a corner and was catapulted into a stone wall. The driver failed to stop leaving the 33-year-old in the road with multiple injuries including five spinal fractures, 13 broken ribs, two punctured lungs and a fractured skull.

Thankfully a newly retired nurse who lived opposite heard the crash and cared for Robyn until the emergency services arrived.

“I was only given a 50/50 chance of survival but I was incredibly lucky,” said Robyn, now 53, from Myddfai, near Llandovery in the Brecon Beacons. “Despite breaking my spine in several places the spinal cord was still intact and so with a lot of help and support I was able to recover.”

Robyn spent six weeks in Cardiff spinal injuries unit undergoing major surgery to have metal rods inserted on either side of his spine. But remarkably, five months after the accident, he was back in the saddle.

And, in 2006, he cycled 150 miles in a day across the widest part of Wales from St Davids in Pembrokeshire to Chepstow raising £2,500 for Spinal Research, the UK’s leading charity funding research into the repair and restoration of the spinal cord to cure paralysis.

It’s a challenge Robyn will be attempting again on June 15, to mark 20 years since his accident.

“I wanted to mark the anniversary and to raise at least double that amount for this fantastic charity,” said the Head of Design & Technology at Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Myrddin School, Carmarthen. “I’ve been so so lucky. I’ve been able to lead a full life with a brilliant family and career and carry on with the sport I love.

“I know many other people who suffer a spinal cord injury are not that lucky. This will be a hard challenge but I’ll hopefully be joined by 20 family, friends and work colleagues who will ride some or all of the way with me. I think it’s going to be emotional.”

Every two hours someone in the UK is paralysed after a spinal cord injury. It can happen to anyone at any time with around 105,000 living daily with the devastating consequences.

Spinal Research Chief Executive Louisa McGinn said: “New data reveals the number of people injured or diagnosed with a spinal cord injury is approximately double that previously estimated. The need for research funding has never been greater.

“We’re also in touching distance of function restoring treatments for people paralysed after a spinal cord injury. Every single donation brings our vision of curing paralysis a step closer and we’re really grateful for the brilliant efforts of Robyn and his family and friends.”

Robyn, a father-of-three, not only cycles regularly but also commentates on the sport for S4C. To support his St David’s to Chepstow Challenge go to https://www.justgiving.com/page/robyn-davies-1704123709035