INJURED rally driver Justin Birchall is due back in the Ribble Valley with his relieved family after his gruelling South American adventure.
Justin (40), who lives in Middop with wife Louise and their three daughters, was forced out of the Dakar Rally with mechanical failure in Peru, then was travelling in a support vehicle which was involved in a collision that killed two people.
He suffered four broken ribs and neck and back injuries. Despite the pain, Justin left hospital in Lima and flew to the Chilean capital Santiago determined to join his Race2Recovery teammates, many of them injured servicemen, for the end of the rally.
Only one of the four teams, driving Land Rover-based Wildcat rally cars, managed to complete the 5,000-mile rally, setting a record as the first disability team to do so. Justin joined all the drivers, co-drivers and support crews at the finish. He said: “I am overwhelmed with pride to be part of the Race2Recovery team.
“It has been the most incredible experience and I have made some wonderful friends for life. Standing next to these astonishingly brave guys on the podium was one of the proudest moments of my life and one which I will never forget.”
Justin, operations director of Birchall Foodservice at Hapton, near Burnley, is due back in the UK today (Thursday).
Wife Louise said: “The girls and I can’t wait to see Justin and give him a big cuddle. To be honest, we’re just so relieved that he’s still in one piece! We knew that the Dakar was the most challenging and gruelling race in the world, but nothing can prepare you for the reality of it. We are so proud of him and all of the team and we can’t wait to get him home.”
Justin aims to raise £25,000 for Tedworth House, the Help for Heroes charity’s flagship recovery centre. He said: “Thanks to everyone who has kindly donated so far – and please keep giving!”
You can make a donation online by visiting http://justgiving.com/Justin-Birchall