How Harold Wood’s Long-Term Conditions Centre helped amputee Malcolm Hingle out of a wheelchair and onto a bike
- Credit: Archant
For most people, riding a bike is, well, like riding a bike – once you’ve learnt how to do it, you don’t forget.
Malcolm Hingle, 53, is the exception to that particular rule. After losing his left leg just above the knee following a car crash in 2006, the former Scotland Yard policeman had to learn to stand on his own all over again.
But two years after the amputation, strong-willed Malcolm is planning something few of us would attempt on two legs, let alone one – a week-long bike ride between Paris and London, covering up to 90 miles per day, for charity.
For Malcolm, the steep road to rehab began at the Long-Term Conditions Centre in Harold Wood, which is run by North East London NHS Foundation Trust (Nelft).
“One of the consultants said to me: ‘I think you need a challenge’,” he remembered.
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“The easy option is to sit on your arse and do nothing,” he said, “and I didn’t think that was really me – so I had to get out there and do something.”
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What he did was pretty spectacular – he trained for, and completed, a five-day 100km walk in Jordan in aid of Parkinson’s research.
But it didn’t end at the finish line.
“While on that journey, I was challenged to do the Paris to London bike ride for Help for Heroes,” said Malcolm.
“I was interested in helping that charity because, through my amputation, I’ve been down to Hadley Court, the military rehabilitation centre,” he added, “to see how the other amputees down there deal with the trials and tribulations of having an amputation.
“They’re the real heroes.”
But even for previously active Malcolm, getting back in the saddle after losing a leg was far from easy.
“You have to get extremely strong in the core muscles because you’re using different bits of your body,” he explained.
“There are things I can’t do, like standing up in the saddle to pedal.
“I only get about 20 per cent of my power from the stump and I have to do everything else with my right leg.
“And I have problems with saddle sores because I find it difficult to lift the weight off.”
Despite his difficulties, Malcolm knew he’d be able to make it from Paris to London after he successfully cycled to Cambridge from his home in Chingford earlier this year.
“I was pretty sore afterwards,” he laughed. “The fit of the socket is very important because if I get too many sores on the stump it just becomes too painful to cycle.
“The centre in Harold Wood and the prosthetics people at RSL Steeper have been really supportive in getting me through what’s necessary to get back as active a life as I possibly can.
“If it weren’t for the Long-Term Conditions Centre and RSL Steeper I wouldn’t be in the position I am now. Without their technical support and physiotherapy, I wouldn’t be progressing the way I am now. It’s fantastic.”
Malcolm begins his cycle on Monday. To sponsor him, visit http://www.justgiving.com/Malcolm-Jim-Battlefield-Bike-Ride. He hopes to raise £5,000 for Help for Heroes.