A farmer who was paralysed after falling from a grain store roof hopes his story will encourage others to take health and safety more seriously.
Bedfordshire farmer David Anker spoke movingly about his accident, and the impact it has had, at a health and safety webinar organised by NFU East Anglia.
“I had no memory of what happened – I lost four days of my life. The impact on resources for something like this is unbelievable. It took 30 people, including the air ambulance, to get me to hospital,” he said.
“The effect it has had is life changing. The first thing I remember is the surgeon coming to me and saying you will never walk again, so I am resident in a wheelchair. However, I think the biggest challenge is for other family members. My wife has had to go through sheer hell.”
Mr Anker, 69, said he was on 17 tablets a day to control the pain and the incident had also had a severe financial impact as he was not insured.
“We all think we are indestructible - I did. I have worked at height on many occasions over the past 40 years,” he said.
Alongside loss of income of about £60,000 a year he has had to build a new house as the existing farmhouse is not suitable for wheelchairs.
“I never planned to retire early – I was reasonably active and I ran the farm by myself and thought I would keep working. Now I do very little. I do my office work and go out and about as much as I can. It is probably going to be more and more because I'm still healing and it will probably take two years to heal as much as I'm going to," he said.
"I’m very grateful to the neighbours for stepping in so quickly to help with the contract work.”
More than 100 farmers attended the webinar, which also featured presentations from Neil Whatling of NFU Mutual Risk Management Services, on what a good risk assessment looks like, and NFU Farm Safety Adviser Tom Price on safe box and bale stacking.
NFU Regional Board Chair Tony Bambridge, who chaired the meeting, thanked Mr Anker for taking part.
He said: “That story touched all of us. You have really had a difficult time David, and I hope it’s one small benefit that having the courage to tell your story will make people think harder about safety.”
If you missed the webinar, you can watch it again here.
A further health and safety webinar will take place on 18 June. This will feature Hertfordshire County Chair Gordon Paice, Deputy President Stuart Roberts and NFU Student & Young Farmer Ambassador Eveey Hunter.
Call 01638 672100 or email the regional office to book your place.