'We already have the perfect present'

ASK Maria and Kelvin Knights what they want for Christmas and the answer is simple - they already have it.

Craig Robinson

ASK Maria and Kelvin Knights what they want for Christmas and the answer is simple - they already have it.

Just 12 months ago their youngest son Kyle was fighting for his life after an horrific scooter accident in Ipswich left him in a coma only days after his 16th birthday.

Although doctors feared he would never improve he has defied the odds and made a miraculous recovery.

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Following months of gruelling rehabilitation - which included learning to walk, talk and write again - he is back at the family's Ipswich home and has even returned to college.

His fierce determination has been an inspiration to his parents, brother - former Ipswich Town footballer Darryl, 20 - and 25-year-old sister Kerrie.

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The family are now looking forward to a less anxious Christmas, during which they can celebrate the 17-year-old's considerable progress.

“This time last year he was semi-conscious,” said Mrs Knights, 43. “The prognosis was grim - they weren't sure he would walk again.

“However, he's made a fantastic recovery - we're all so proud of him. Ask any of us what we want for Christmas and we have it - it's an appreciation for life and family, that's what we have learnt going through this.

“He still has many treatments which are on going and many which will be life long, but he is here and fighting everything thrown at him.

“Last year I think we just wanted Christmas to be over. This time of year is for families and we wanted everyone to try and be as normal as possible but it was extremely hard.”

Mr Knights, 43, continued: “It was difficult for us but I think it was more difficult for the family. Glen, his uncle, was there on the night of the accident and spent time at Addenbrooke's, so he knew how serious things were. It was hard because he obviously has his own children but it didn't feel like a celebration. I think the whole family felt like that.

“Now it will be a proper Christmas - we can get up to see Darryl play on Boxing Day and spend a couple of days with him. We'll just be a family again.”

For Kyle this year will be even more special because he cannot remember any Christmas Days before the accident.

“I suffered head injuries and I've got problems with my memory,” he said. “I'm looking forward to Christmas - I didn't have one last year. I can't remember any from the last 17 years either so it'll be my first Christmas really. It will be great. I'll remember this one.”

Kyle, a former Chantry High School pupil, was injured along with another teenager when their mopeds were in collision with a Ford Mondeo at the junction of Orford Street and Anglesea Road, Ipswich, on August 21 last year.

The driver of the car, Stephen Barwick, then 30, of Marlow Road, Ipswich, was jailed for 16 months and disqualified from driving for two years after pleading guilty to dangerous driving, driving without a licence and driving without insurance.

Kyle, who was left with severe head injuries, a broken leg, two broken ribs, a broken collar bone and a bruised lung, was initially taken to Ipswich Hospital for treatment but within hours was transferred to Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, where he spent four weeks in intensive care and underwent a string of lifesaving operations.

He returned to Heath Road in September last year - where he stayed until he was taken to Coleman Hospital, Norwich, in November.

After a few days he eventually opened his eyes and began the slow road to recovery, during which he had to learn how to walk, talk, write and even eat.

He retuned home in May this year - the first time the family had been back since the accident - and began sessions at the Icanho rehabilitation centre in Stowmarket.

Since then he has started running and been for his first swim and in September even enrolled on a springboard course at Otley College - where he studies bricklaying, cooking, gardening, English and maths.

Mrs Knights said: “One of my friends is a tutor at Otley and I told her about Kyle and she suggested the course. I thought he needed people of his own age around him in a structured environment to help him progress so we got in touch and since then it's been absolutely fantastic.

“The college was really geared up to help him and has pushed him forward in the right direction. The tutors are very pleased - they say he brings everyone together.

“He went from a hospital environment where everyone was looking out for him to one where he now has to look after himself. He has to get himself organised and is getting more and more confident.”

Course leader, Tony Gibson, added: “He is a popular student who is an inspiration both to his tutors and fellow classmates. He has shown great determination not to let what he has experienced hold him back. And his confidence has continually grown.”

However despite his obvious progress there is still a long way to go and his parents know that the New Year will hold many challenges - one of which is learning to drive.

“I'm looking forward to that because I'll be able to go wherever I want,” Kyle said. “I've got to take an extra test because of my head injuries but it'll be great when I pass.

“Before the accident I wanted to study plumbing at Suffolk New College and I'm also still hoping to do that as well - maybe next September.”

“He's really pushed himself for the last six months but that's got to continue,” Mrs Knights added. “It's not over yet - I would say he's got to stay determined for another two years. He's still wants to do what he did before the accident - he hasn't lost that drive.”

She said there were more operations planned for the New Year - including one to remove scar tissue and another to straighten an eye - but hoped other people in a situation similar to Kyle would draw inspiration from his recovery.

“To anyone in hospital over Christmas I would say look at Kyle last year and look at him now,” Mrs Knights said. “If you are determined and push hard then it can be done. Don't ever give up. If we had given up at the times when we were told to expect the worst then Kyle might not be where he is today.”

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