One Sunday lunchtime in June 2010, Andrew and his friend Tony were  out on their motorbikes, enjoying the spring sunshine. 

Just outside Torrington, on a long slow bend up the hill, Andy realised that he had a problem – his back tyre collapsed after hitting a bump and was deflating fast, leaving him with no control or steering.  As he and his bike slowed down, Andy saw a car coming towards him but, despite his best efforts, he was unable to avoid a head on collision. 

To Tony’s horror, he watched as his mate flew over the handle bars of his bike and was thrown onto the bonnet and windscreen of the car, his back taking the impact, and landing a few feet further down the road.

Calling for the emergency services, Tony rushed to the scene to see what he could do.  Relieved that the driver of the car was shocked but unharmed he sat with his friend while they waited for help.  Andy had landed on his back, unable to move. 

As the Air Ambulance arrived, paramedics were able to treat Andy at the scene before transferring him onto a spinal board for his transfer to North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple.   Andy remembers very little of the impact or immediate aftermath but does recall being reassured by the aircrew paramedics.  “I was very relieved to be taken to hospital by the helicopter,” he explained, “as a land ambulance would have taken much longer and, undoubtedly, been a far bumpier ride.”

Despite suffering compression fractures to three of his vertebrae, and following months of rehabilitation, Andy was determined to get back on a bike as soon as he was recovered.  

Undeterred by his accident, Andy is now well and truly back in the saddle.  Not only does he do road cycling on a pushbike for fitness, he now races a 1000cc v-twin sports bike on circuits around the country, and is sponsored by Aprilia. 

“I wasn’t going to let my accident stop me riding,” he said, “I will always be an avid bike rider but since the accident it has brought home how precious my family life is. I am very safety conscious and would never take unnecessary risks, but life is for living and I still intend to live life to the full.”

Andy Payne and Emilee