When Stuart Gibbs lost his left leg as a result of a motorbike accident in 2012, he never imagined that less than five years later, he’d be fulfilling a life-long dream to compete on the racetrack in a prestigious motorsport series. The determined 47-year-old has now overcome adversity to complete his debut season in the 2017 JCW Mini Challenge, which is officially supported by Mini UK.
Stuart, who previously served with the British Army for more than 14 years, was riding home from a charity night at a local motorbike club meeting when he was struck by a car making a sudden U-turn in the road. The impact caused the Weston-Super-Mare resident and his wife, who was riding pillion, to be thrown from the bike and resulted in him suffering a number of serious injuries including a complicated leg fracture, nerve damage and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Following the accident, Stuart faced almost three years of physical and psychological recovery including more than ten operations and painful muscle grafts. While many attempts were made to save his left leg, a deep-seated infection prevented healing and he was forced to undergo an elective amputation below the knee. To help address his psychological response to the accident and manage his PTSD symptoms, he also underwent intensive Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
“Interim payments helped to pay for the extensive rehabilitation he needed before and after his amputation”
With the help of personal injury specialists, Minster Law, Stuart’s short-term financial stability was secured while he was unable to work. Interim payments helped to pay for the extensive rehabilitation he needed before and after his amputation, he was given access to the latest microprocessor prostheses and underwent counselling. Long-term financial advice was also provided in order to help him plan for the future.
Despite his traumatic experience on the road, Stuart has remained an avid fan of motorsport and prior to his accident, he had taken part in various races and rallies in Germany. No longer able to enjoy riding his motorcycle, he decided that he would turn his hand to four-wheel racing and signed up to an initial two-year programme with the Excelr8 team in the competitive Mini Challenge.
Using the 2017 season as a test bed to learn race craft and get used to his car, he finished his first year in a respectable 20th position overall and is now preparing to go into the 2018 season with his eyes on the podium.
“I’m really grateful for the support of Minster Law for helping me on my long road to recovery”
Stuart said: “There’s no doubt that my life has changed since my accident, but I’ve always loved motorsport and I can’t believe I’m now competing alongside some fantastic names such as Reece Barr and Brett Smith!
“Although I’d like to get back on a motorcycle, I still don’t feel comfortable trying and without my confidence I don’t think it’s fair on other road users. I do miss riding, and the camaraderie that comes with going to bike meets, but my involvement in the Mini Challenge has given me something else to focus on.
“I’m really grateful for the support of Minster Law for helping me on my long road to recovery – they’ve been great with everything from providing financial advice and helping to arrange a Personal Injury Trust, to organising my rehabilitation and counselling. It was fantastic to know that the support was there when I needed it.”
Minster Law’s Philip Austick, who led Stuart’s case added: “Our main role in supporting Stuart through his recovery was to ensure that he received not only the financial support he needed after his accident, but also the physical and psychological support too.
“Stuart’s injuries were life-changing but to see him competing on the racetrack and doing something that he loves is really inspiring and demonstrates that anything is possible with the right support network.”
Stuart is currently looking for sponsors for his 2018 campaign. Please contact the Excelr8 team directly or visit www.minichallenge.co.uk for more information.