From a boy to a man In August 1994, James Alexander was 16 years old and undergoing a YTS (Youth Training Scheme) apprenticeship through Bicton College. He was working at a neighbouring farm just outside King’s Nympton, using a topper, when a malfunction of the machine crushed him. James was unable to move. A land ambulance crew conveyed James to North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple but, after examination, he was flown swiftly by Devon Air Ambulance to the spinal unit at Salisbury Hospital. After just one week, James had a heart to heart with his Doctor. “I had noticed that everyone around me was in a wheelchair and I wondered if that was my fate too. The Doctor nodded; I had broken my T12 and L1 vertebrae. I spent a total of eight months in Salisbury, 110 miles from my family and home in Kings Nympton, and can honestly say that I went into hospital a boy and came out a man. But I’m aware now that it could have been a whole lot worse; I may be paralysed from the waist down but I’ve still got a good life. I’ve got a lovely partner, Angela, and I do two jobs, one as an advisor for an adaptation company for disability vehicles and I also drive a tractor on various farms. I used to race rally cars too, though I’ve given up on that now!” Read more stories about the resilience and fortitude of our patients. Do you have a story to share? Let us know!