A MOTORCYCLIST who was seriously injured in an accident earlier this year has expressed his thanks and Christmas wishes to everyone who supported him following his ordeal.
Brian 'Snail' Finney had to have his left leg amputated from above the knee and his left arm amputated after his blue Yamaha motorbike careered into a lamppost on the A500 in April.
The 44-year-old was taken to the University Hospital of North Staffordshire where he was put into an induced coma as surgeons battled for 19 hours to save his life.
But now he is back in Cheadle living in a new bungalow in Mackenzie Crescent and working hard to get his strength, independence and active lifestyle back.
He said: "It's been up and down and it's very frustrating and it has hit my family really hard.
"There are times when I'm on my own and I start thinking about it and sometimes I get upset; it's been massively life changing.
"I don't remember anything about the crash, my first words waking up from my coma were 'I'm ready for the gym'.
"My mum said I'd been in a bike accident and I asked how my bike was. She told me I'd lost my leg and my arm was in a bad way.
"I don't think I really took it in properly at the time because of the medication I was on."
Brian has done remarkably well in his recovery and has even left hospital early due to his good progress.
He added: "Really I should still be in hospital, but because I've done well the doctors let me go.
"I like my independence and my friends and family visit me often, so I'm not entirely on my own, but it's harder now there's no doctors or nurses helping me all the time.
"I've had to come to terms with it and start trying to get back to some kind of normality.
"It's hard getting ready in the morning and doing things that used to be straight forward now take longer and are more difficult."
Brian has been attending rehabilitation and physiotherapy at the Haywood Centre in Burslem ever since the accident eight months ago and despite his life-altering injuries, he still appreciates that he is able to live a relatively independent life.
He added: "When I see other people who are paralysed and can't do anything I realise it could have been a lot worse.
"I used to be really active, going to the gym three times a week, playing football and swimming and it's hard getting used to not being able to do that anymore.
"But I still go out with my friends, although not like I used to when we'd have about seven or eight pints and watch the football; I have to be more careful now.
"I can do most things myself, but I still need some help, which will improve as I get stronger and I'm more used to my prosthetic leg.
"I'm aiming to get back to normal as best I can; I'm hoping to take my daughter on holiday in the new year and I'd love to go swimming and to the gym again and I've been looking at disabled football teams.
"For now I'm focusing on getting my strength back and being able to spend Christmas at my mums, like I normally do."
A charity race night , organised by Mick and Suzanne Baskerville, was held in honour of Brian at Cheadle Cricket Club on November 9 and raised £1,700.
Mick Baskerville, aged 48, of Prince George Street, Cheadle, said: "We had loads people turn out and sold hundreds of tickets and held an auction with prizes generously donated from local businesses.
"I've known Brian for years and it was such a sad thing to happen, he was always really active.
"I wanted to do something to help and I'd done these race nights in the past, which had always raised quite a bit of money for charities; it's early days but I'm also hoping to do a marathon next year.
"Brian was so overwhelmed and so grateful and it gave him a much needed lift to see how many people support and care about him.
"For an event in Cheadle to raise so much money is absolutely brilliant and thank you to everyone who supported us and to all of the people who gave prizes for the auction."
The race night was only one of a host of fund-raising events which have taken place around Cheadle in Brian's honour, including charity football matches and various collections.
He said: "Words can't express how grateful I am, everyone has been brilliant.
"I'd like to thank Carl 'Tank' Mills, The Huntsman, Cheadle Bikers Club, Gary Bentley and family, my uncle and aunt Tony and Linda McNicholas and cousins Jamie and Lee, the Lamplighter football team and landlord Steve Dawson, my colleagues from JCB Loadall in Rocester, Cheadle businesses, Lee Plant, 'Paxo', 'Panache', Elliot, Lee, Matt, Scott and Mick who did a Three Peaks Challenge, The Anchor Inn in Tean, The Bird In Hand and landlady Kathy Miller and Uttoxeter Football Club committee.
"Apologies if I have left any names out, Thank you to everyone and I wish you all a Happy Christmas and New Year."