A 42-year-old man from Battersea who turned his life around after being seriously injured in a motorbike accident has become a rookie driver for Team BRIT.
Tyrone Mathurin has lived in Battersea since he was six. After attending Sacred Heart RC Primary School, John Paul II RC Secondary School and St Francis Xavier Sixth Form College where he completed a Foundation Art & Design course, Tyrone began dealing drugs and later spent time in prison.
In February 2005 he crashed his motorbike when riding over an obscured pothole. The accident caused four nerves to be torn from his spinal cord. During surgery to reattach the nerves, doctors were unaware of a hematoma putting pressure onto his spinal cord. A week later he awoke from an induced coma, totally paralysed from head to toe.
Tyrone spent seven months on a hospital bed, slowly gaining slight movement in his limbs. Eventually he was transferred to a Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore for a further three months where he had to learn to walk, dress, cook and write for himself.
Now, he has weakness in his right leg and no movement in his right hip and has no feeling from his right hand to his right elbow.
Tyrone explains: “After my accident, everything changed. I knew I wanted to change my life and keep out of trouble. It wasn’t just me I was affecting by being involved in drugs, it was everyone around me.
“At the same time, I was coping with being told I’d never walk again, I could barely breathe for myself. I spent months being unable to communicate with anyone apart from looking at letters of the alphabet to spell out words. I blamed myself for everything that had happened and felt like a burden on people, so my mental health was very low.
“When I came out of hospital it was almost like coming out of prison. Both times I was in places where I was looked after and had everything done for me, so I was really anxious about living on my own. Eventually I met film producer Pikki Fearon who was also disabled and he encouraged me to do more. He showed me how to use the gym, get in and out of my car more easily and boosted my spirits. I then set myself goals, and the more I achieved, the more I pushed myself forward.”
A long-term fan of motorsport, Tyrone had been researching adaptive controls for quad bikes when he came across Team BRIT. Team Founder Dave Player invited Tyrone to the team workshop in Dunsfold, Surrey where he tried out the team’s hand controls on its racing simulator. He later joined Team BRIT drivers for a kart racing experience using hand controls, before trying out the team’s BMW 118 on the Top Gear Track at Dunsfold.
Now, Tyrone is preparing for additional track days with the team, ahead of taking is race licence test later in the year. He hopes to be racing with the team in the Britcar Championship in 2022.
Tyrone explains, “I’ve always loved motorsport, particularly motorbikes, but I’ve always assumed racing wasn’t for me, firstly because I assumed it was ‘a rich man’s sport’, and then because of my disability. I was inspired by the story of Nic Hamilton and his racing career and saw that he had been involved with Team BRIT. When I got in touch, Dave couldn’t me more enthusiastic and encouraged me to go along and find out more.
“Now, I’m excited about what’s ahead, I’m ready to push my limits and see how far I can take this. If I can also inspire people with my story, by showing them that it’s never too late to turn your life around, I’ll feel very proud.”