Shropshire Star

Top rider who beat the odds after crash dies at 64

A Newport man who battled back from a devastating motorcycle crash in January 1981 which left him in a coma for six months has died at the age of 64.

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Ian in his racing heyday.

Ian Tomkinson, who had raced internationally for England in motocross, had been riding to work at Serck Audco in Newport from his then Aqueduct home when his life was changed forever.

Ian Tomkinson, of Newport, who has died aged 64.

He was in collision with a car on the A518 and was knocked out and left in a coma, with doctors not expecting him to survive. But he was to defy the bleak prognosis, although the tragic incident left him in a wheelchair and with speech and co-ordination difficulties.

His sister Maureen Abrahams said: "It was a very traumatic time for everyone, especially as the family was told 'to go away and forget about him.' Can you imagine being told that? Of course the family did no such thing.

"When Ian eventually regained conciousness he had to face several operations and procedures together with a long period of rehabilitation including physiotherapy which was not as advanced as it is today and he regained only very limited movement in his limbs.

"The brain injury he sustained severely impaired his speech and balance. Nevertheless even with these disabilities he was determined to live as normal a life as possible.

"Ian moved back to Newport to live with our parents Ramon and Dilys who devoted their lives to caring for him. Our family gave him the best life possible, which included taking him to motocross events to meet with his friends and to watch the sport he so loved.

Ian in his racing heyday.

"He also attended the local day centre where he would meet and socialise with people and the family involved him as much as possible with everyday life, including taking him on many holidays and various social activities.

"Ian began his motorcycle career at the age of eight on a machine built out of washing machine parts by our father and he would ride around his grandfather's fields at Swan Farm in Forton, where he was born and brought up.

"He joined the Cotswold Youth Motorcycle Organisation to take part in schoolboy motocross at which he was very successful and attained the Schoolboy Championship."

He then progressed to the Amateur Motor Cycle Association and joined the Telford Motocross Club where again he achieved great success and raced all over the UK and Europe.

Ian raced for England.

In 1976 Ian and his brother-in-law Keith Abrahams represented England for the AMCA/IMBA European Championship and had a fantastic season culminating in Ian being runner-up to Keith, who won that year.

"The AMCA have been so good to Ian over the years since his accident and the motorcycle fraternity have been wonderful as have other local people and organisations who have done so much to help him, particularly the community of Newport where he was very well known.

Ian in action.

"With his long-term carer Phil, Ian would visit the local gym and swimming baths to keep as fit as possible and to help his limbs. Another of his favourite pastimes was playing dominoes at Newport Bowling Club and with friends at Butter Cross Court."

His other passion was supporting Wolves. He was a great fan and attended as many home matches as he could with Phil and loved to watch all football on the TV, together with the many quiz shows of which 90 per cent of the time he knew the answers.

Despite his disabilities Ian enrolled at Telford College of Arts and Technology where he so impressed staff and students on his media studies course that they nominated him for an Adult Learners Award in 2000. His was one of 180 names put forward for six awards sponsored by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education, and he became the first TCAT student to win one.

"Ian had a wonderful sense of humour and a lovely smile. He was full of determination and wanted to get better, but you reach a point where you can't go any further and have to accept life as it is."

Ian suffered a heart attack on January 30 and his funeral will be at All Saints Church, Forton, on March 6 at 11.30am followed by the wake at the Swan Hotel in Forton and a committal at Telford Crematorium at 4.30pm.

He is survived by his mother Dilys, sister Maureen and brother-in-law Keith who would like to thank everyone who had time for Ian and stopped to chat to him whenever he was out and about, and for the support received following their sad loss.