After a devastating road accident when he was a teenager, Allan Clayton was told he had just a 20 per cent chance of using his limbs again.
But following major surgery and months of rehabilitation, he walked out of hospital.
However Mr Clayton, 36, of Leeds city centre, was not prepared for life with his injures and after a large compensation payout in his early 20s, he went off the rails. Almost 20 years since the accident in Bridlington, Mr Clayton has spoken of his determination to help others who experience mental trauma as he prepares to complete a huge walking challenge for charity.
The fundraiser will see him walk the equivalent distance of Mount Everest in aid of Spine, the charity of the spinal unit at Pinderfields Hospital, and the mental health organisation Turning Point.
Mr Clayton, who has lived in Leeds since 2009, said: “The idea was to climb the equivalent distance as Everest over eight months, which is the same period it took me to learn to walk again, around the UK’s most iconic peaks.”
Mr Clayton volunteers for Turning Point in Brighouse and has begun training as a mental health counsellor.
He hopes to set up his own counselling service to help people who have suffered the physical effects of accidents.
He said: “I suffered from really bad depression after my accident. I never got offered any help but I never told anybody I was really struggling. I was given a 20 per cent chance of using my limbs again.
“I got a large amount of money when I was 21. I just went down the wrong path. I went back into society and my life was just a mess. I didn’t fit back in. I want to be able to give back and help people.”
Mr Clayton said he plans to provide counselling for people who have had similar experiences. He said: “Counselling is a big step for people. I want to help people integrate back into society after they’ve had an accident. I want people to know it’s alright to be different and walk differently.
“I’ll be offering counselling services to everybody but my main target audience will be people that have been in the same situation. Mental illness is a massive thing. If I had been able to say, ‘I’m not OK, I need some help’ back then, although I love my life now, it might have been different. The money might not have gone. I want people to know its alright not to be alright.”
In October, Mr Clayton hopes to complete the Ben Nevis stage of his Everest walk, despite still suffering painful symptoms from his accident.
He said: “I still have to have massages every week or every couple of weeks and I go to the gym.
“I have good days but I also have difficult days when I can’t get out of bed.”
TWO GOOD CAUSES SET TO BENEFIT
SPINE is the voice of spinal injury patients at Pinderfields Hospital, where Mr Clayton was treated as a teenager.
The Wakefield hospital is home to the Yorkshire Regional Spinal Injuries Centre, one of 11 specialist centres in Britain.
The centre provides long-term care to people with life-changing injuries and spinal cord diseases.
Turning Point is a national social care organisation offering mental health, substance misuse and learning disability services around the country.