Watch: Paralysed farmer is back behind tractor wheel
A farmer who spend four months in Shropshire's specialist spinal injuries unit is back behind the wheel of his tractor, thanks to the ingenuity of another farmer and engineer.
Mathew Evans, 30, was left paralysed after he was hit by a vehicle while he and friends were walking home from the Denbigh and Flint Show in August last year.
Told he would never walk again – but he pledged to one day be back driving the tractors he loves.
It was a chance meeting with Cheshire farmer, Andrew Stubbs, while at tractor dealer John Bownes, that his dream started to become reality.
Mr Stubbs, of Astle Farm East in Cheshire, said: "I am an amputee myself and I wanted to do something to help Mathew, who in an incredibly brave chap.
"I started to look at how we could use hydraulics to lift him into the tractor cab and with the great help from John Bownes and the Access to Work scheme, we were able to design this system."
Now Mr Evans can drive the Valtra tractor by himself. The lift gets him up into the tractor cab and a special gear box has been fitted to the tractor so he can accelerate and brake without using his legs.
"It is spot on, it has given me my independence back," the agricultural contractor said.
"When I am driving the tractor - or my car - I am like anyone else."
"There are thinks I can't do so I have employed a young worker, leaving me to do what I love best, drive the tractor. I can't thank Andrew and the dealership enough for the help they have given me."
He is so thrilled with the new tractor that he is planning to drive it to his wedding in April next year to girlfriend, Eleanor Lloyd. The couple have a one year old son, Jac.
"I want to get the tractor painted white for the wedding," he said.
Mr Evans, from Denbigh, North Wales, says he hopes that his story will give hope to other patients in the Midlands Centre for Spinal Injuries at Oswestry's Orthopaedic Hospital, where he will still have to travel for six monthly check ups.
He said: "I had great treatment there, they couldn't do enough for me. If I can show new patients that I am back working and driving less than a year after I was injured then that might help then look more positively at the future."
Mr Stubbs spent 10 weeks working with Mathew on the bespoke tractor design.
He said: "You can see by the smile on his face what it means to him to be back in work. He really is an inspiring chap."
His brother Anthony Stubbs, who runs his own video production company called Funkimation, created a video about Mathew and his new tractor. Watch the video at shropshirestar.com.
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