Double crash victim fights back to teach

9th December 2005 at 00:00
A man left brain-damaged by a boyhood road accident has fought back to earn a qualification to teach at the factory where he works.

At the age of 13, John Hanaphy fell into a coma after he was hit by a car.

At 39, his legs were damaged in another crash.

But despite injuries which impaired his mobility and speech, he has now qualified as a teacher at the Birmingham factory of Remploy, a charity which specialises in finding employment for disabled people.

Mr Hanaphy was riding a Chopper bicycle in 1973 when the accident that would change his life occurred.

He was knocked into the air in the crash, hitting his head on the wing mirror of a caravan as he fell. The trauma plunged him into a coma for seven months.

When he awoke, he was unable to hear or see anything or remember the accident. "It was a terrifying experience," he said.

It took another year for him to regain his sight, hearing and mobility, and to return to school, although he was left with permanently impaired speech.

In 1989, after a series of temporary jobs, he found work with Remploy's factory, which makes car components for companies such as Jaguar and Aston Martin.

"I used to absolutely love it. When I first got the job, I was so thankful, I would have done anything to have been here," he said. Remploy was different in offering a career with the opportunity to progress, Mr Hanaphy said.

He also began picking up the first of 16 qualifications, beginning with City and Guilds in computing.

"I missed so much schooling, I just felt I could do better," he said. He also managed to become a second-dan black belt in karate.

A second accident came when he was riding his motorcycle and had to swerve to avoid a car door opening. His leg was shattered and had to be held together with plates.

But with his qualifications behind him, Mr Hanaphy was reading to take up a post training other staff to use IT when he returned to work.

Now he is celebrating earning his Certificate in Education, which is the essential qualification for teaching in further education.

Mr Hanaphy said: "Even though I've got my black belt, my disability does limit what I can do. But if I had never had this disability, I might not have tried to achieve the things that I have done."

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