About Back on Track

On 15th June 2013, Russ Dawkins’ life changed forever.

For 7 years he had been part of a group of cyclists that spent one long weekend a year riding in France or Spain. The first trip was to raise money for a local children’s hospice, The Shooting Stars, near Hampton, England. Between 12 they managed to raise £32,000. Thehospice were pretty pleased with that, as were they.

Since then these annual trips have mostly been for fun, as was the most recent one. In fact, this was the first one that Russ had personally organised. They flew to Nice on June 14th and the next day took on the mountains. They ascended the area around the beautiful Gorges du Verdons, climbing some 5 or 6 miles. Of course, what goes up must come down, so after a coffee stop, the 12 of them set off downhill, each at his own pace.

He has no memory at all of even going to France, so what follows is what he has been told by his fellow riders.

“About halfway down the hill, I had an horrific crash. As I approached a right hand bend, I was apparently ‘spooked’ by a convoy of motorcyclists coming the other way. My reaction was to over-brake, resulting in me flying over the handlebars. There was no collision with the motorbikes, and no blame is directed at them.

My collision with the french tarmac smashed most of the right side of my rib cage, broke my collarbone and scapula (shoulder blade) and snapped my spine about half way down my back, severing the spinal cord.

I went from being a super-fit athlete to a paraplegic in an instant.”

Russ was flown to Toulon military hospital where they operated to save his life. He had a heart attack during surgery, and while they struggled to keep him alive they bridged his snapped back with titanium. He was in a coma for 2 weeks.

His recovery to date has been miraculous. Now coming out of hospital on weekends to spend time with his family, Russ is bound to a wheelchair but no less determined to carry on living life… albeit slightly differently.

The Back on Track Trust has been created to help Russ to overcome his life changing event, to fund therapy that may  become available to him, where suitable, to get him back on track in terms of a reintroduction to sport as therapy, to support those who suffer from spinal injuries and everyone affected by them. To share stories, to encourage, to bring together all of the devastation, emotion, strength and rebuilding that everyone connected to this kind of injury must go through and direct it into positive change, events, emotional support and fundraising for much needed treatment and equipment.

Anything with  the ‘disabled’ label costs so very much more than the ‘standard’ equivalent. For example, a hand  powered bicycle is typically £4,000 as opposed to £800 for the one you’d be used to pedalling.

Unless a person is awarded a large compensation amount via some insurance policy they may have had in place, then they simply cannot afford something as simple as a bike.

We hope to be able to provide assistance to those that can’t afford it.

We’ve all watched the Paralympics and been amazed and astounded by the heights reached by men and women  rendered disabled by an accident or birth defect. Below this level are thousands living in far than glamorous conditions without access to financial support to get them active and mobile. Sport and exercise is so  key to kick starting rehabilitation in an individual that has sufferered  an horrendous injury leaving them paralysed physically , and mentally in total shock and despair.

Russ himself has started this very journey, and is every day living the nightmare of  the physical disaster that he never saw coming.

Exercise and activity is proving to be his salvation, and he is convinced that others have to be encouraged this way.

So….. Let’s raise some money!


Register now and become a part of it.

6 thoughts on “About Back on Track

  1. Hi Russ,

    I am a member of The Hogarth Health Club and read about your life changing accident on the noticeboard. I then recently actually saw you training in the gym and, honestly, seeing you pushing yourself literally overwhelmed me to tears. We are lucky to live in a world where causes such as yours are highlighted to us in the media and magazines and the news but to actually witness you training was amazing for me, and so deeply inspiring. Most people moan and whinge and struggle to get to the gym but to see you and your determination, the drive you clearly have and the way you feel sport is your saviour is so incredible. I truly believe exercise is a life changing/mind altering thing and can alleviate all forms of depression too. I wanted to also ask, has
    your charity organised any spaces for the London Marathon 2015? If it has and there are spaces still available I d love to run to raise money for your charity. I have a place via my husband s company but I d really love to run it for a charity I feel passionately about and right now you and your situation and this charity you created don’t seem to leave my thoughts…

    Wishing you all the best

    Anna x

  2. Hi Russ,

    My name is Rodney and my parents live in the house opposite to you and I am the guy with the bike that says hello to you and your wife in the mornings. I happen to be watching ‘Ringside’ this morning and it featured your charity white collar boxing event. It looked like an amazing night and well done for the money it raised in support for people with spinal injuries. I would like to say that prior to your accident you inspired me to participate in sporting activities and even now with your charity work; you are inspiring me that extra more. Keep up the brilliant work and for any future charity events if I could help or contribute in anyway please let me know and I would gladly help out. Best regards to your wife Dani and your children.


    1. Rodney,

      Thanks so much.
      Yep, it’s been a horrendous time for all of us.
      Thanks for your support my friend.
      There’ll be lots of stuff going on in due course, and please, you’re very welcome to come over for a brew any time.


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