Paraplegic is making the most of his second life in style

Mike gets a new view of the world atop a camel in South Africa in 2002
Mike gets a new view of the world atop a camel in South Africa in 2002
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He may have no recollection of the pain but when it happened it was the beginning of ‘life part two’.

Paraplegic Mike Mackenzie, 63 and a patient of the spinal unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, severed his spinal cord after being run over by a Croatian driver when working for Scottish European Aid in war torn Bosnia in 1994.

Mike suffered a catalogue of injuries and two of his colleagues tragically lost their lives in an incident he describes as a ‘bump’.

The chairman of the Poppa Guttmann Trust said: “I have to admit when I was first injured, one felt slightly jealous of the other two.”

Such thoughts are common among paraplegics shortly after learning of their injuries. However, Mike added he quickly overcame this.

“I thought ‘this is the beginning of life part two’ which is completely different to what one was doing before.

“I saw life part two as an opportunity. It made me far more aware of making the most of opportunities.”

And seize these chances he did. Since the incident Mike has gone on to raise hundreds of thousands for various charities, scuba dived on the bottom of the Red Sea and ridden camels in the Nevada desert.

However, it is his work in ensuring founder of the Paralympics, Ludwig Guttman, be more recognised in the year of the Paralympics, which he is most proud of.

“There’s a lot to be said for a bit of fun but the fact you are helping people is the key motivation for doing it.

“We have achieved a lot. It’s part of the Paralympic legacy. We have built on it by making Guttmann better known.”

Trustees carried the Paralympic torch after unveiling a statue of the spinal doctor earlier this year.

“This should act as an inspiration for getting people involved with Paralympic sports.”

Since the summer, when Britain was swept away by the sporting fever, Mike said he has already noticed a change in attitudes towards disabled people.

“They are not in the least a bit nervous about what they can ask. People are more at ease with disabled people.”

After the incident in Bosnia, Mike was treated at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, a place he calls his ‘security blanket’.

“It’s given me a life which I suspect I would not have had if I was treated at a general hospital.

“I know when things go wrong I can rely on Stoke to sort it for me.”

Having taken on so 
many challenges in his life, Mike said it is a relief to be marrying fiancé, Sandy 
Johnstone, in March who 
can help him with his biggest fear.

“It’s great to have someone that a) can cope with somebody who’s not very good at the washing up and b) finds the ironing difficult.”