WHEN Martin Lane fell from a roof he was working on, little did he that know nine years later he would be wheelchair bound AND leading his country’s rugby team.
The 42-year-old from Eldene is trying to raise another £2,500 to buy a new wheelchair so he can play the sport now his current one – which he bought second-hand – is wearing out.
Martin said: “I bought a second-hand chair at the beginning of the first season I played, and I used it while playing basketball, to play with the Swindon St George Rugby League team and the Welsh team, so it’s been a bit bashed.
“I really need a new chair by the time the Four Nations starts in August, so I have to raise the money by then.
“I have already saved up about £700 myself already.
“I didn’t want to just ask people to give their money, so I’ve also asked people to set me challenges I can complete.
“It’s difficult because there are a lot of charities out there to support people into sport, but they predominantly give to people under 18. “Obviously you can apply for support but most of the time that’s where the money goes. It’s a funny sort of system really.”
Martin’s accident left him with compressed spinal discs which led to crippling back pain. Although at first he continued to work as a roofer, and even developed his own business, White Horse Furniture, based in Faringdon, he had corrective surgery in 2011 which left him restricted to a wheelchair and having to re-adjust to his new way of life, as well as selling off his business during the recession. He said: “I knew there was a 60/40 chance that it would go well but unfortunately I was one of the unlucky ones.
“It was difficult for me and I did see a counsellor for a while and I did get a bit depressed.
“I became quite withdrawn and I am normally quite an extrovert, so my family really did notice a change in me.
“They had to install a ramp on my front door and were talking about bringing in a stairflift, which were just reminders of what had happened.
“I didn’t really want to go out in case I bumped into someone who knew me before it happened, and I’d have to explain it all over again.”
At the end of July 2011, Martin’s wife persuaded him to go along to an open day hosted by Ben Humphries at Swindon Council on disability sports.
“If it hadn’t been for Ben I don’t think I would be here today.
“I started playing wheelchair basketball, and then I was put in touch with Tony Ellis, who wanted to set up a wheelchair rugby league team.”
Martin, who has completed his first year in ceramics at Cardiff University, went on to play for Mersey Storm near Liverpool before playing for the Welsh national team.
But Martin always wanted to play for England, and earlier this year he was asked to captain the team.
He said: “To play for your actual country is an amazing feeling. There’s nothing quite like playing in front of huge crowds of 6,000 people.
“I miss the guys at the Welsh team but I think they always knew I wanted to play for England.”
To support Martin and donate towards the cost of the new wheelchair, visit www.gofundme.com/ampvio.