Paralysed former jockey ditches wheelchair to go skydiving
A FORMER jockey, paralysed after a racing fall, threw himself from a plane in a charity skydive last Wednesday.
He was closely followed by mum Hazel Dean from Hungerford and her partner Nigel Wilson, who was celebrating her 50th birthday with the 13,000ft jump.
Wayne Burton, aged 30, fell badly while riding in a National Hunt hurdle race at Exeter Racecourse in March, 2008.
He suffered head injuries, broke his back and severely damaged his spinal cord.
He has been wheelchair-bound ever since, receiving regular rehabilitation training at the Injured Jockeys’ Fund headquarters in Oaksey House, Lambourn.
The pair, who both live in Hungerford, planned yesterday’s scheduled jump over Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire with the help of the British Army’s Parachute Regiment display team, the Red Devils.
Speaking after his jump he said: “Before the jump, I felt sick and pretty scared.
“If you’ve never done it before, you don’t know what to expect.
“It was absolutely and totally out of this world.
“I’m just totally amazed that we did it - It was an off the scale experience.”
Mr Burton aims to raise at least £3,000 to fund a sports wheelchair for basketball. He hopes to receive some grant funding towards the chair and so any excess funds will be donated to Racing Welfare, the charity which helps racing’s workforce at times of need.
He said: “I’ve had a lot of help from the Injured Jockeys’ Fund and I plan to fundraise for them at some stage.
“However, on this occasion I really want to support Racing Welfare because it is the charity that looks after everyone working in racing; not just jockeys but stud and stable staff, racecourse staff, farriers, heathmen, everyone – even after they have retired.”
Following his accident, it seemed impossible for the fit jockey to pursue any kind of sporting activity. He initially lost his power of speech as well as movement and spent two years in hospitals and visiting rehabilitation facilities.
He said: “At times I felt really desperate. I was having seizures on a regular basis and was having to move between treatment centres as they were dealing with different aspects of my injuries.
I was constantly tired but I had a huge amount of support and somehow I got through it.”
This March, he started training with the Thames Valley Kings Wheelchair Basketball Club and part of the money raised will go towards a specialist chair.
He said: “If you look like you want to succeed, then you need your own chair.
“Playing keeps me fit and the more I play, the stronger I get and the better my balance gets.”
To add to Mr Burton’s total, visit http://www.justgiving.com/Wayne-Burton1