Feature: Hobby helped rebuild life of Hornchurch accident victim
- Credit: Archant
October 6, 1999 is a date that Bob Williams will always remember.
It is not an anniversary or a birthday but it was the moment that his life changed forever.
He said: “I have lost a lot of my memory and I am not good at dates, but I will always remember that one because it was when I had my accident.
“I don’t remember anything about the actual accident, but I know that I sustained a lot of injuries.”
The father-of-three from Bruce Avenue, Hornchurch, was on his way to work on a motorcycle as a police officer in Limehouse in the East End when he was involved in an accident with a 42-tonne articulated lorry.
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His injuries were numerous – he was left with a broken leg, which later had to be amputated, a broken right hip, three fractured vertebrae in his spine and some damage to his short-term memory.
After seven months in hospital and many operations, Bob, now 48, realised that life would never be the same.
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“I was told that I would not be able to work and that I was permanently disabled,” he said.
It wasn’t the loss of his career that he feared most, however. It was the thought that he might not be able to go fossiling.
Bob had clocked up a career in the police force spanning more than 20 years, working as a junior schools police liaison officer in Romford and Limehouse.
He even received a medal for long service from the force but the moment the uniform was off the only thing that really mattered was fossiling.
He said: “On my days off I would go on field trips and look for fossils, minerals and anything I could find.
“There is a real buzz when you find a fossil that has never been discovered before.”
Bob didn’t see a reason why it should end just because of his accident.
He said: “I always wanted to spend more time on my fossiling. I never wanted to do it in this manner but without the fossiling I would have had a massive hole in my life.”
Now 14 years after the accident, Bob still hasn’t given up his hobby.
He spends most of his time reading books and researching various fossils and minerals.
He is also a member of the Essex Rock and Mineral Society, which has played even more of a role in his life since the accident.
He said: “It has given me something to do. I always look forward to the monthly meetings, it is one of the few times that I go out.”
He added: “For me it is my fossiling that keeps me going and I would say that I would not be here if it wasn’t for that.
“If I didn’t have my fossiling I would have something else, but I just try to get on with things. If I sit down and think about the accident, I will just be depressed. I have to think about something else.”