Leiston: Inspirational diving instructor makes miraculous recovery
A YEAR ago inspirational diving instructor Shane Free was fighting for his life in a coma from which doctors feared he might never wake up.
But 12 months on and the courageous 33-year-old is making a miraculous recovery.
Mr Free, of Westward Ho, Leiston, has defied the odds after an horrific motorcycle accident in Phuket, Thailand, at the end of 2009. He was in a coma for a number of weeks and even when he woke up his future was incredibly uncertain.
But thanks to sheer determination and hard work the former Leiston High School student – who was living and working in Thailand when the crash happened – is now looking forward to a Christmas at home.
His proud mother Monica Vearer, 58, has been by his side throughout the whole ordeal – tirelessly helping with his gruelling rehabilitation and caring for him 24/7.
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She said: “What Shane has achieved this year – just through sheer determination – has been phenomenal. In my heart this is where I wanted to be but if I’m honest I didn’t think we would be anywhere near. The recovery has been a real inspiration.
“We sometimes go through videos to see his progress – some of the things we see we just laugh at but some of the early stages are quite upsetting. However, when you look at how far he’s come, it’s incredible.”
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As part of the rehabilitation Mr Free has been swimming regularly and has even been able to go snorkelling.
He eventually hopes to be able to dive again, although his aim for the New Year is to ride a pedal bike. He is also helping out at one of his old jobs on Thorpeness Mere, preparing the boats for the summer.
Mr Free said: “It’s been a hard year but I wanted to get better. I don’t think I’ve surprised myself, I’ve always had that determination.”
Despite being separated both his parents went out to Thailand to be by his side after the accident.
He was flown to Ipswich Hospital in February and was later cared for at Fen House in Ely.
He still has to regularly return to Icanho in Stowmaket, which, like Fen House, specialise in treating people with an acquired brain injury, and also receives support from the charity, Headway.
Mr Free said he would like to say a huge “thank-you” to everyone who has helped with his recovery, especially those who have helped raise money through the Help Shane Free Fund. The money has been used to buy equipment for his rehabilitation.