Meet the patients: Pete Steele
Less than a year ago, Pete Steele was facing the prospect of never walking again.
Now the 42-year-old has amazed his friends and family by completing a 10km run in just 52 minutes.
The Hampshire Constabulary firearms officer used to run cross-country marathons and even ran 42 miles once, but a horrific motorcycle accident left him with three skull fractures, a broken back and a snapped sternum.
Now Pete has eight titanium screws, two rods and two cross-connectors in his spine and is battling the pain to get back to fitness.
Consultant spine surgeon Evan Davies said: “This was a nasty fracture and very unstable. Without surgery it would have led to a spine deformity and he would have become bent over.
“In the past, Pete would have been bedridden for three months before we could mobilise him, but with these titanium rods and screws the rehab process is much quicker.”
Pete has been inspired to run again by Evan and his many friends at Eastleigh Running Club.
He was already a member of the club, but when he saw their advert for a course for beginners and those coming back from injury, it gave him the motivation he needed to start running again. Now he also takes his dog Molly for a five-mile run on St Catherine’s Hill, near Winchester, several times a week.
Pete said: “Without Evan, I wouldn’t be walking at all. I am indebted to him. He told me to push the boundaries, so that’s what I’m doing. I’ve got so much support from the other runners at the club too; it’s really helped.”
After the accident, Pete spent a month at Southampton General Hospital. During his recovery, the dad of two would spend hours in the aviary at the end of his garden, where he keeps and breeds chipmunks.
Three months after leaving hospital, he was back at work and has been busy developing the Firearms and Knife Education (FAKE) campaign.
Pete said: “Without the accident, I would not have had the opportunity to develop FAKE, as I’m not currently authorised as a firearms officer.
“In six months, 26,000 pupils have seen the campaign and it’s being rolled out across the UK. We visit schools, youth clubs and youth offending teams and it is a very successful project.
“Yes, I had an accident, but I’m not going to dwell on it. I’ve got to move on. I will definitely do another marathon one day. Just the one, and then I’ll knock it on the head.”
First published in Connect issue 21.