Paralympics inspire accident victim Pete
WATCHING the 2012 Paralympics inspired a north Swindon man to play wheelchair rugby and turn his relationship around.
Pete Gaskin had become a shadow of his former active self after an industrial accident left him paralysed four years ago and led to the breakdown of his relationship.
It was only when the 52-year-old former mechanic, from Penhill, was hooked on watching the Paralympics on TV that he decided to give wheelchair rugby a try.
“I can’t believe how much everything has changed since I started playing. I’m like the old me again,” said Mr Gaskin.
“It has worked wonders and even brought my wife and I back together again.”
He had always been a bit of an adrenaline-junkie enjoying off-road motor sporting and paragliding but that all stopped when he was working on a truck and the jack broke, sending him flying across the workshop.
“I couldn’t feel my legs and was in total shock,” he said.
“They rushed me to hospital and after a couple of weeks of waiting, the news I dreaded was confirmed. My spinal cord was so damaged it was unlikely I would walk again.
“I didn’t know what to do and was suicidal. I didn’t even want to do anything.”
But watching the Paralympics spurred him on to search for a local group to join, which is when he found St George Rugby Club.
“I absolutely loved it and felt alive again at last. It honestly gave me a reason for living,” Pete said.
Things also started looking up off the rugby pitch as he grew closer to his ex-wife Melanie.
“We still saw each other a lot because of our six-year-old son Jacob. She saw how I had changed and got back my spark.
“I asked her to move back in with our son and the teenage girl she has fostered just like one big happy family.”
Unable to continue his previous job, Mr Gaskin is stepping up his efforts to develop a new skill as a freelance photographer. He has also regained use of his legs for very limited distances.
The club has some 90 members and the wheelchair team train weekly at the Oakfields Project, in Marlowe Avenue.
Club coach Tony Ellis said: “The team is a big success story. The players have gone from just training to competing at the top super league level.”
Councillor Keith Williams, cabinet member for leisure and strategic transport, said: “Pete’s story is inspirational and I hope it encourages others to discover the pleasure of sport.
“The free taster sessions at Wharf Green were a brilliant opportunity to find out more about the many thriving sports clubs we have here in the borough.”
For information on Swindon St George rugby club email Tony on email@example.com.
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