A GRANDFATHER who was unable to walk for three months after a road accident has spoken publicly about his ordeal for the first time.
Richard Huelin, of Friars Court, Bangor on Dee, sustained serious leg injuries during a two-vehicle collision in September 2009 near Bickley, Cheshire.
Mr Huelin, 66, was hospitalised for a month and says he is unlikely to ever fully recover from the injuries he sustained, as his ability to walk long distances unaided has been greatly affected.
He has shared his story as he urges people to come forward and give blood, having gone through two blood transfusions during the traumatic period he was in the Countess of Chester Hospital.
“I will never completely overcome my injuries,” said the retired insurance agent.
“The damage to my legs was very severe. I’m just glad I am still able to walk and I am still here.”
Mr Huelin, a devoted enthusiast of classic cars and machinery, was involved in a head-on collision while driving to a classic car show in Cholmondeley with his friend, Michael Smith, of Overton.
As they were travelling in a 1968 Ford Cortina, Mr Huelin recalls how he was left fearing for his life in the seconds before the vehicles collided.
“Just before the collision I genuinely thought that was going to be it for us,” he said.
“The noise was unbelievable.
“I just remember looking down and seeing the bones sticking out of my legs.
“If you look at the photos, you wouldn’t believe we got out of there alive.”
Mr Huelin recalls a lot of smoke coming out of the car and fearing a fire could develop.
After being taken to the Countess, he had to undergo three operations – each lasting more than four hours – to save his leg.
A plate was inserted into his left foot to help preserve it.
For the next three months he was unable to walk because both legs were broken.
He took his first steps at home on Christmas Day 2009.
Mr Huelin has gradually been able to increase his walking abilities since.
“I owe the hospital an awful lot and especially my surgeon, Jo Banks, who did so much for me,” he said.
“It’s because of them I can still walk. My left foot was effectively ‘dead’ when I first went into hospital.
“I was still finding pieces of glass coming out of me about three weeks after the accident.
“My wife, Karen, was also a massive support for me and did so much to help after the accident.”
Mr Huelin, who is originally from Jersey, missed daughter Vicky’s engagement party while in hospital but recovered in time to attend his other wedding of his other daughter, Ffion, last year, walking with the aid of a stick.
The time since his accident has at least enabled him to enjoy time with his daughters and his grand-daughter, Aaliyah, three.
Mr Smith was also taken to hospital following the collision, which resulted in the driver of the other car receiving a 14-month jail sentence for driving offences.
The car Mr Huelin was driving was written off.
A year after the collision, Mr Huelin and Mr Smith took a major step to putting the ordeal behind them when they travelled together again to the event in Cholmondeley.
“Going there again helped to lay the ghost,” added Mr Huelin, who is still able to drive.
“We went exactly the same way and I was glad we managed to do it and get there this time.
“But even now I occasionally have nightmares and flashbacks about what happened.”
Mr Huelin is now urging everyone to give blood to help others who find themselves in the same position as he was.
National Blood Week last month saw almost 100,000 people in North Wales and England make a date to donate.
“Every day is a day a blood donor has given back to me,” said Mr Huelin.
“I would like to thank all those people who give their blood unreservedly every day.
“They have done a wonderful thing for me and I am for ever in their debt.”
For more information about blood donation or to make an appointment visit www.blood.co.uk, or call 0300 123 2323.