Five years ago Andrew ‘Buddy’ Holley had a serious motorbike accident, which left him with broken ribs and punctured lungs, as well as fractures in his shoulder blade, collar bone and his back. He was air lifted to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham and spent two weeks in a coma, followed by four months at Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital in Oswestry. As a result of his injuries, he is now a paraplegic and a wheelchair user. Since the Tough Mudder, Andrew has been nominated for the Sunshine Pride Awards, for the Sporting Achievement of the Year, and is among the finalists.
Andrew’s colleague Michelle Joinson wrote:
“I am an avid reader of your magazine and on reading the articles on people who have embraced fitness through life challenges that they have been through, I would be grateful if you would spare a couple of moments to read about one of my work colleagues, Andrew Holley. Your magazine is about people who have stories behind why they turned to fitness and their journey, and I think this is an amazing story of how through all the problems that are thrown at you, fitness can change you mentally and get you through. It also shows, especially with Andrew competing in Tough Mudder whilst in a wheelchair, that the impossible can be possible.”
Here is Andrew’s story in his own words.
Images By Andrew Holley And Michelle Joinson
My name is Andrew Holley. I had a serious motorbike accident five years ago. I broke my ribs, shoulder blade and the collar bone, and my back, punctured both my lungs. I was air-lifted to QE Hospital in Birmingham, spent two weeks in a coma, and went to Oswestry for 4 months. As a result, I am now a paraplegic and a wheelchair user.
I have been slowly recovering ever since, setting myself small personal goals, achieving those goals, and then setting some more. I’ve been playing for the Hereford Harriers Wheelchair Rugby League team for the last couple of years. I represented England in the Wheelchair Rugby Union 7’s in a Tri Nations tournament at the Royal Welsh Showground in Wales, which we won, beating Scotland and Wales.
I put a team together to take on the Tough Mudder Challenge. The team consisted of an able bodied member from the Hereford Harriers, 7 members of our main sponsor Fluidmaster, and myself, in a homemade wheelchair. Our aim was to take on the 10.6 mile obstacle course at the Badminton Estate in South Gloucester.
“Fitness is so much more than simply getting fit.”
We had a massive response from fellow Tough Mudders and spectators alike, who cheered and encouraged us the whole way. The course involved climbing over 10ft walls, crawling under barbed wire tunnels, carrying logs over obstacles, running and crawling through dangling electric shock wires, plunging down tubes into ice filled tubs of water, and to make it more difficult, all through deep and shallow mud. We completed the course in 5 hours and 2 minutes, and reached nearly 200 thousand views on the official Tough Mudder Facebook page.
The response and messages of support from strangers have been overwhelming. More importantly, I have been able to answer questions from other disabled people seeking advice, and offer them my encouragement. It is so important to have something to focus on.
These images offer a glimpse of how our team pulled together to complete the obstacle course, and show that fitness is so much more than simply getting fit.
With special thanks to Fluidmaster for sponsoring the team at the event.
Founder and editor of FitNet.
Previously gymnastics coach, massage therapist and personal trainer with 20 years of experience. Former gymnast and dancer.