The voice of Knockhill racing Garry Stagg has spoken about his fight to recover from the A9 motorbike crash that left him and his wife in a wheelchair.
The commentary booth at the famous Fife track is named the ‘Garry Stagg Commentary Tower’ in his honour after a head-on collision near Dornoch in June 2017 left him and his wife fighting for their lives.
Garry said: “You have to look at these things as every day is an improvement on yesterday. That what has happened has passed and gone.
“One day, my plan is to walk the 1.3miles of Knockhill race circuit. It might never happen, but I am perfectly prepared to aim for a target and miss.
“Nothing is going to stop me trying.”
Speed fan tells drivers to kill their speed
The retired commentator has now turned campaigner. He is fighting for lower speed limits in his home village of Logierait, near Pitlochry, and for better access to his heavily modified home.
He hit out at the potentially deadly combination of blind corners and a 40 mph speed limit through the Perthshire village.
“You literally have to stop and listen with your heart in your mouth. When you hear no sound then you go.”
The A827 route through Logierait links the A9 with Aberfeldy and others business and tourist hotspots in the west of Scotland.
“I think that 20 is plenty,” Garry said.
“We’ve got this limit in other villages surrounding us and it seems strange to me that Logierait has been overlooked.”
He is also taking on the council to ensure workers install a proper drop kerb outside his home.
The current set up means Garry and wife Hilda Stagg would need to risk their lives sharing a stretch of road with traffic, including timber lorries going 40mph or more, to get to the village.
“We can only leave our home in the car and we need to be driven.”
Damon Hill and other world champions
Before the accident, Garry Stagg became a well-known name, in part for his race track interviews with British, American and world champions including F1’s Damon Hill, Sir Stirling Moss and Sir Jackie Stewart.
He retired from commentating after the accident.
“We were travelling on a motorcycle, up to Thurso, and a car overtaking and going the other way hit us head on.
“In the subsequent court case, the prosecutor said he had never seen such a serious accident without loss of life.
“We are both extremely fortunate.”
Is Garry angry at driver who hit him?
Doctors amputated Garry’s right leg at the hip while they were fighting for his life.
“My smashed pelvis had to be repaired. I was in a coma for eight weeks. Which is just as well really. I’m glad I don’t remember that period.”
He spent 15 months in a recovery unit. He has now got back some use of his hands and recently celebrated making himself a coffee unaided.
“When I left Ninewells Hospital, my wheelchair was powered by head controls. I couldn’t use my hands. I can now, with support, stand up with a prosthetic limb.”
The motorcycle fan, who has not given up hope of getting back on a bike, said he harbours few negative thoughts towards the other driver.
“I don’t feel anger towards him. I feel an anger because of what he did to my wife. And I feel a resentment in a way. But those are negative thoughts that don’t help you.
“At the end of the day, it’s not a person in whom I’m interested. I don’t have any thoughts about him at all.”
Are motorbikes too dangerous?
Garry said he was always aware of the dangers of riding a motorbike, but worked to minimise them as much as he could.
“I don’t believe I took risks when I was riding a motorcycle. Nevertheless, it can happen. It can come out of the blue.
“You can’t spend your life wrapping yourself up in cotton wool and taking no risks. But you do have a duty to minimise those risks.”
He said the strength to recover as much as possible from the accident had informed his fight to the cut the local speed limit in Logierait.
“The whole community will benefit from this. It will make life safer for everyone who lives there, whether they are able bodied, children or elderly.
“Whoever they are. For all of us. This is going to be a safer place to live.”
Garry has received support from the Centre for Independent Living on his drop kerb request.
A Perth and Kinross Council spokeswoman said a drop kerb “has been authorised”. They are planning to install it in the coming months.
Staff at the local authority will “investigate the possibility” of lowering the 40mph speed limit, she added.