"You wake up on your back in hospital and think 'how do I get out of this?'" he says. "Then you realise you've got two choices: you either commit suicide or you change course. So I changed course."
With his wife he moved to the Devon coast and, having run training courses in the force and being "a practical sort of person", he decided to go back into learning. He volunteered at a local adult education centre at Brixham community college.
But he found he needed to take a course himself first, before he could teach or train. He's now taking a Level 2 City and Guilds course in Adult Learners' Support, alongside numerous computer courses and French classes.
On top of that, he has been involved in helping the college build a garden, suitable for disabled gardeners, with ramps and raised beds. "I've got the bug," he declares.
As a motivated self-starter, he had no problem finding the right courses.
But he says the Government could find better ways of attracting people back to learning.
"I cringe every time I see the Gremlins ad," he says. For Brixham college, he has nothing but praise, though he adds: "The biggest problem is attracting people to get involved.
"The resources are there, the expertise is there, but I'm disappointed more people aren't taking advantage of it."
With his pension, income is not his driving force. Already working as a learning support volunteer and with ambitions to run courses himself, he says: "My motivation now is to keep my brain active, get out and meet people and feel useful again.
"I hope I can do my bit to get people back into education."