Harborough man almost killed by a terrifying fireball completes his 1,500-mile sponsored motorbike ride
Rod Martin has raised about £30,000 for the air ambulance since his terrible accident
A Harborough man almost killed by a terrifying fireball has raised almost £3,000 for two top charities after doing a 1,500-mile sponsored motorbike ride.
Indomitable Rod Martin, 69, is thrilled after he’s topped up the coffers of the regional Air Ambulance and disabled sailing charity Northampton Sailability after his motorbike marathon around the tip of Scotland.
The intrepid motorcycling-mad pensioner is now back home in Ashley, near Market Harborough after he hit the road to kickstart his epic week-long expedition on Sunday July 4.
“I can hardly believe I’ve gone out there and done it. It’s been absolutely incredible,” said Rod.
“I’ve met some fantastic people and although the weather was a bit hit and miss it all went to plan.
“I’ve raked in £2,200 for the Air Ambulance and £710 for the amazing Sailability charity based up the road at Pitsford Reservoir.
“They are both phenomenal causes – and I’m so pleased to be able to help them both out.
“I set out on this mission hoping to make £1,000.
“So I’m totally staggered by how much we’ve pulled in – it’s just brilliant, it’s blown me away.”
Rod powered straight north to Edinburgh on his two-wheeled stallion before charging up the A9 towards Inverness.
“I clocked up 490 miles in just 10 hours.
“It was pouring down when I rolled up at the campground that night.
“So I was mightily relieved and delighted when the people there gave me a static caravan for the night at half price,” said the retired MoT inspector.
“I motored on up the east coast towards John O’Groats as thick fog cut visibility to just 20 feet.
“The roads were a bit rough too and it was a wee bit hairy at times!
“At another point a female deer jumped out right in front of me and I just managed to avoid it.
“A good job I did too or I’d have plunged down a steep ravine.
“I actually rode the famous North Coast 500 ride up there in just over two days and loved it,” said Rod, who has raised about £30,000 for the Air Ambulance over the years.
“I spoke to and met so many different people along the way.
“And total strangers were chipping in up to £20 here and there as I explained I was raising funds for the two charities.
“People were so generous – and I’d like to thank each and every one who has donated cash to help me generate nearly £3,000.
“They have done me and the two charities I’m supporting so proud.”
Rod suffered a staggering 52 per cent burns when he was engulfed in a fireball at his garage workshop on St Mary’s Road, Market Harborough, in October 2005.
“I had been welding a barrel containing heating oil when it suddenly exploded right in front of me.
“I was taken to Kettering Hospital by land ambulance.
“An Air Ambulance helicopter then flew in to whisk me to the specialist burns Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham,” he said.
“They got me there in 12 and a half minutes.
“The trip by road would have taken over an hour and a half – and that would have been that.
“In those days anyone suffering over 50 per cent burns usually died.
“So I owe my life to the brilliant Air Ambulance crews and the fantastic NHS medics who worked on me.
“I almost lost my left leg too but an Army surgeon managed to save it.
“I was in hospital for three and a half months receiving intensive treatment and care,” said Rod, a dad-of-two and grandad-of-two.
“I used to lie there in bed seeing all the Air Ambulance helicopters flying seriously patients in day in day out.
“I decided there and then to do my utmost to support the service which kept me alive.
“And I’ll continue to do that for the rest of my life.”