WHEN life threw Dave Thompson a curve ball with life-changing repercussions, at first, he struggled to face the challenges that lay ahead.
But fast forward 25 years and it would be impossible to outline half of the things the 56-year-old has achieved in the last two decades and a half - let alone celebrate all of his accomplishments.
“It has been a great journey so far but it’s not over yet,” said the father of two. “A lot has changed in the past 25 years.”
On July 2, 1989, Dave from Old Hall was rushed to hospital after breaking his neck playing American football for the Warrington Scorpions.
“I couldn’t remember anything other than feeling that I couldn’t breathe. It was a frightening experience,” he recalled.
The next 18 months were the most difficult period of his life - spending a total of nine months in hospital.
“The frightening part was that I did not know what I could do. I have no use of my right arm and I was worried about what I could do work-wise and family-wise,” he said.
Around a year and a half after the accident, Dave hit rock bottom as he struggled to come to terms with the accident after sustaining the spinal cord injury which left him needing to use a wheelchair.
“I did get to a low point and even considered suicide. It was that bad. It was the frustration and not being who I had been and not realising there was light at the end of the tunnel.
“I never thought I would work again, never thought I would drive again. I certainly never thought I would be doing anything like this.”
But in the past 25 years with the help of his family, friends and support workers, Dave set up the Warrington Disability Partnership, launched Disability Awareness Day - the world's largest not for profit voluntary-led disability exhibition - and travelled to the far corners of the globe to help make facilities more accessible to disabled people.
This is made all the more impressive as Dave originally only set out to publish a six page booklet to promote what was available locally to disabled people.
“It just grew and grew,” laughed Dave as he remembered his first intentions.
Dave and his wife of 36 years, Pam, have two children Gavin and Emma and three grandchildren Jamie, Ellie and Chloe.
“I have a great wife, great children, great family - they have been my bedrock,” said Dave, who was awarded an MBE for his services to disabled people in 2001.
In spite of the challenges he has faced - even beating throat cancer following a diagnosis in 1999 - Dave some-what surprisingly describes himself as ‘lucky’.
“I have no regrets. If I didn’t have the accident then I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing,” he said.
Disability Awareness Day takes place on Sunday at Walton Hall Gardens from 10am to 5pm.