Alex Ford recalls running with eight fellow members of his club on a route he had used ‘many times’ before, then everything goes blank.
The next thing he recalls is waking up in hospital with no clue as to what had happened to him or how he had ended up there.
The fact was, he then discovered, that he had been hit by a car. The collision, in October, 2019, left the now 70-year-old with a catalogue of injuries, including multiple spinal and leg fractures, a fractured skull, and a bleed on the brain.
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It has taken Alex almost two years of intensive therapy, and a number of surgeries, to finally return to the sport he loves and his recovery is ongoing. But he said that, « although the physical scars are healing, I still have injuries that people can’t see ». He has been left with cognitive issues and epilepsy.
Alex was part of a small group of runners from the Brackla Harriers who were on an organised run on their well-worn route down Tondu Road in Bridgend during a seemingly normal evening training session. He was wearing a high-vis jacket and said he was a « careful runner » who had followed the route many times before.
After the collision, Alex was taken to Bridgend Hospital and then transferred to Heath Hospital in Cardiff where he was admitted to the intensive care unit. He underwent extensive emergency surgeries in order to stabilise the multiple fractures on his spine and other bone injuries.
He spent around six weeks under sedation and then a further seven weeks on the trauma ward before he was able to return home to his wife, Jane, in January, 2020.
Following a police investigation, it was decided that the driver of the car would not face criminal charges. But Alex has been helped to access specialist rehabilitation and to secure compensation from the driver’s insurance company by the specialist serious injury lawyer Irwin Mitchell.
« Since that day life has been totally different. Coming to terms with my injuries and how they’ve affected me and my family has been difficult. It’s still an adjustment, but I’m very grateful for the support I’ve had and the progress I’ve made so far, » said Alex.
“While I’ve made great progress I’m still not the same person I was. Although the physical scars are healing I still have injuries that people can’t see. My memory is not what it used to be and my attention span isn’t the same. I often get distracted and can go off on a tangent.
“I just hope that by speaking out others who may be in a similar position don’t feel they have to suffer alone as support is available. »
Alex recently completed his first post-collision five-kilometre run and now has his eye on entering competitive racing again in September, having returned to his running club for the first time in 19 months.
« Getting back running was a major focus for me. I’m nowhere near the level I was before my injuries but getting back to running has been a real boost to me. The first one was difficult but completing it has really spurred me on to focus on my recovery and reclaiming more of my old life back. Being able to now return to running with the club was a huge milestone for me.
« I’m already looking at what other races I can take part in, » he said.