Huntingdon man to take on triathlon two years after waking from coma

Triathlete Matt Hawksley, who has cheated death eight times, in training at One Leisure, Sawtry

Triathlete Matt Hawksley, who has cheated death eight times, in training at One Leisure, Sawtry - Credit: Archant

TWO years to the day after waking from a coma, not knowing whether he’d be able to speak again let alone walk, a Huntingdon man is taking part in a triathlon.

Matthew Hawksley (pictured) was on a work weekend in County Sligo, Ireland, in June 2011 when he swan-dived 15 feet from a harbour wall into one-metre deep water, fracturing his vertebrae and sending him into cardiac arrest and convulsions.

He was revived four times on the beach and twice more in the ambulance on the way to hospital.

In hospital Matthew had a risky operation on his neck, where plates and bolts were used to form a cage around the damaged vertebrae, and after which he was put in an induced coma for five weeks.

During his coma, Matthew’s family were told that it was unlikely that he would be able to speak again, and that he would be likely to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair controlled by his chin.

“I wasn’t messing about or showing off, I was swimming and diving in at other places,” the 25-year-old said. “Because I swan-dived in, I was pretty much vertical, and the pressure from hitting my head caused the burst fracture to my fifth verterbra.

“Due to the shock I went into cardiac arrest and started to take on water and started to drown. It was only a friend of a colleague who came in and saw that I was in trouble who raised the alarm.”

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Matthew added: “When I was in hospital I contracted MRSA and pneumonia and it was pretty much touch and go for me.”

In May last year Matthew was diagnosed with testicular cancer. “Luckily they discovered it early. All of this happened in the space of a year – a pretty hard one at that,” he said.

On July 27, two years after waking from a coma, Matthew is taking part in the London Triathlon for Macmillan Cancer Support and The Back Up Trust who have aided him on his recovery.

“It’s been a miraculous journey and I have just wanted to do my family, my partner Avril, and my nephew proud,” he added.

“The training is going well. I haven’t left any time for mishaps but I work best under pressure so I should make my target of two-and-a-half hours.”

INFORMATION: To sponsor Matthew and donate to Macmillan, text HAWK89 £1 to 70070 or HAWK56 £1 to 70070 for The Back Up Trust, or visit macmillan or