URTU member, Craig Walton, is inspiring his community with motivational talks and physical challenges, having been involved in a serious head-on collision that left him with a below-the-knee amputation
A lorry driver from Barnsley, who suffered a life-changing below-the-knee amputation after a serious road traffic accident, has qualified as a personal trainer and set his sights on inspiring others after securing compensation.
Far from letting his injuries hold him back, Craig Walton, 33, is now “fitter and stronger” than before the accident and is determined to help others facing adversity.
In November 2021, Mr Walton was involved in a serious head-on collision, which resulted in him being trapped in his lorry for over an hour.
As a result of his traumatic injuries, he was unable to return to work in his previous capacity as a driver and has now taken on a part-time role with the company as an administrator.
He contacted his trade union, URTU, who provided him with legal assistance from the national law firm Thompsons Solicitors as part of his union membership.
Before the accident, Mr Walton led a very active lifestyle, training at a kick-boxing gym and participating in endurance events such as the ‘Fan Dance’ – a 15-mile load-bearing walk across the Welsh mountains – and the Three Peaks challenge for charity.
Instead of denting his love for demanding physical activities, the challenging nature of his injuries has made him even more determined to continue his active lifestyle.
Thompsons’ serious injury team signposted Mr Walton to Pace Rehabilitation, the UK’s largest independent provider of amputee rehabilitation services, to help him along his road to recovery.
Following extensive bespoke rehabilitation and private prosthetics provision provided by Pace, Mr Walton is currently competing in CrossFit competitions, has trekked up Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) mountain and plans to attempt the Fan Dance challenge again this summer.
Since the accident, Mr Walton hasn’t just been focused on his own physical and psychological rehabilitation. He’s been engaging with charities, volunteer groups, colleges and other amputees in his local community.
He’s given a series of motivational talks, including one at Barnsley College and is looking forward to inspiring many others in 2023 and beyond.
Mr Walton said: “It’s taken a lot of effort, but I’m physically fitter and stronger than before the accident. I’ve already obtained my Level 3 Personal Trainer qualification. But I’ve not just developed my physical fitness.
“The challenges I've faced due to the accident and the adjustments required to embrace a new way of life with my prosthetic have helped me build my psychological resilience. It’s allowed me to stay on top of my mental health and well-being and keep a positive attitude.
“Now, I want to help others. Even if I can help just one person overcome adversity, I will consider it a huge success.”
The compensation settlement means Mr Walton can move into a spacious, single-level adapted property, providing wheelchair access and adaptations such as a seat in the shower.
Mr Walton added: “The interim payments and the final compensation settlement provide me access to state-of-the-art prosthetics and a bespoke rehabilitation package.
“I can now look to the future with my partner and young daughter, safe in the knowledge that I’ll be able to enjoy a good quality of life and that we are financially secure as a family.
“I cannot express enough how vital my trade union membership was. I’m in a much more positive place now, but if it weren’t for the support of my legal team and their determination to get the best possible settlement, things would be very different.”
Helen Shakespeare, a serious injury specialist at Thompsons’ Leeds office who represented Mr Walton, added: “Although Craig will still face challenges because of the physical and psychological effects of his injury, the prospect of moving into an adapted home that meets his needs, along with his high-tech prosthetics, has provided a great opportunity for him and his family to move forward with their lives.
“Defendant insurers will often want to pay the bare minimum, just enough to get a seriously injured person back to some level of normality. But we strongly believe that it should go further. There is no reason why Craig, or anyone else, should not be able to take part in the various physical activities and hobbies they enjoyed before his amputation.
“We’re proud to represent people like Craig and fight to ensure they get the maximum compensation to allow them to lead the life they want.”
Robert Monks, URTU's General Secretary, expressed: "I am delighted to see Craig reap the benefits of the legal services Thompsons offers through his membership of our Union. The collision he endured was horrific and entirely preventable.
"Craig was already an exceptional individual before the accident, and his determination to adapt to his new circumstances while continuing to inspire others post-accident is truly remarkable. We are immensely grateful to have the nationwide legal expertise of Thompsons available to all our members."