An Angus teenager who spent weeks in a coma after a devastating mountain biking accident is inspiring his parents and medics with his fightback from the crash which almost claimed his life.
Wil Ritchie was with pals at Forfar’s Balmashanner Hill in July when he came off his bike on one of the area’s popular off-road trails.
He was rushed to Ninewells Hospital after a major emergency response to recover him from the scene.
The Forfar Academy youngster has now taken his first physical steps on the long road to recovery as he determinedly focuses on a return home to continue his lengthy rehabilitation.
Medics amazed by teenager’s determination
Wil’s parents, Karen and David, say they have been amazed by their son’s sheer determination to come back from the brink.
And figures from the Angus town’s Strathmore Rugby Club, which Wil has played for since primary school, have already seen almost £4,000 pour into a £10k crowdfunder to support his recovery.
It was a freak accident. At that point, the outcome could not have looked bleaker.
Mum Karen Ritchie
Karen, 48, said: “I watched Wil in a coma and on a ventilator for three weeks dreading that he may never be capable of breathing for himself.
“It was a freak accident that left us facing a situation no parent would ever wish to see their child go through.
“At that point, the outcome could not have looked bleaker,” she said.
“Yet, against all the odds, Wil has fought with such bravery, grit and determination, astonishing myself, his dad and all the medical teams who continue to care for him so compassionately, tirelessly and professionally.
“Things are still uncertain, but Wil’s progress over the past few weeks has amazed everyone.”
‘Hello mum’ were first words on road to recovery
Having been at his side since the accident, Karen was recently greeted with the words ‘Hello mum’, a particularly emotional moment on the rehabilitation journey.
Sight tests have registered encouraging signs and Wil is also able to eat again.
“He is having to work so hard to relearn so many things,” said Karen.
We’ve an immense sense of pride that Wil has displayed the greatest of respect and gratitude towards everyone involved in caring for him.
“He misses physio when he doesn’t have it because he just wants to smash through the challenges facing him.
“It’s incredible how hard he is working, but when anyone tells Wil he is doing well he shakes his head and points to the staff as the ones who are making the difference.
“Everyone at Ninewells has been fantastic, through Wil’s situation and with everything else going on around the pandemic.
“They are astounded – everyone is astounded – and we didn’t think we could hope for where we are now.
“We’ve an immense sense of pride that Wil has displayed the greatest of respect and gratitude towards everyone involved in caring for him,” added Karen.
“Of course, we just want him to keep pushing on and improving, but we also realise he is possibly going to have a lifetime of rehabilitation.”
Strathmore Rugby Club has launched £10k crowdfunder
The couple say they have been overwhelmed by local support for Wil, particularly the crowdfunder set up by Steve Oakley of Strathmore Rugby Club’s Grumpy Gryphons, who are set to cycle the North Coast 500 next summer.
His mum added: “Wil’s always loved sports and has played with Strathie Sharks since he was six.
“It’s incredible what they are doing to help him and we are so grateful to everyone who has already supported the crowdfunder.”
A home visit is on the horizon for the brave teenager, who will also be focusing towards his Boxing Day 15th birthday with the determination and drive which has already carried him so far.