|Simon in full flow|
I first heard of Simon Richardson when Phil Jones of Brother UK and Simon s main sponsor came to buy his Onix Azzuro from me back in May 2011.
I have to admit, I did not know who Simon was really although I was aware of his name. Phil proceeded to tell me of this incredible story of this talented cyclist who suffered terrible injuries in an accident in 2001 where he was hit from behind by a car, was left disabled with limited use of one of his legs.
To avoid having to possibly have the leg amputated due to poor circulation his doctor encouraged him to start riding his bike again,even though the leg wouldn't contribute to peddling it would however promote circulation and save his leg.
Fast forward a few years from there and Simon is winning Olympic Gold & Silver medals at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic games.
I was completely transfixed by this amazing story and on Phils recommendation we started talking to Simon about supporting him with bikes and his push to get on the London 2012 Paralympic British team.
|Simon with his Gold Medal|
My first impression of Simon was of one of the most driven and enthusiastic people I had ever spoken to. Straight away there was no doubt in my mind we were going to become Simon's bike supplier and talks about what he wanted and what we could provide were on the same hymn sheet so in early August we told Simon that he had Onix backing for the next couple of years at least.
Simon's response was one of being thrilled by the news and totally committed which is what every sponsor wants to hear.
What attracted Onix to Simon.
Mainly it was his amazing back story & talent, you just naturally want to help and support people like him who have prevailed over circumstances that most of us would never recover from. Also from an exposure point of view, which is what most sponsorships are about, his possible participation in London 2012 was obviously a big reason for the brand getting involved as well.
In the middle of August 2011 I was due to take my 1st time off work in over 2 years. The Onix project had been and is my life 24/7. So I had promised my wife I would take some time off with the family and turn my phone off in the daytime so they had my full attention.
17th August 2011
Simon was very keen to get his Onix frameset and start training on it as soon as possible. So before my time off I sent Simon his frameset and some parts on the 14th August and it arrived with him on the 15th August.
Simon told me that he was getting it built up and couldnt wait to take it out for its maiden voyage on the 18th.
My holiday consisted of taking the kids on days out to Chester Zoo,Caves in Yorkshire and other family day attractions. The morning of the 17th August was a lovely warm sunny day with blue sky and we were taking the girls to Gullivers World theme park. They were very excited but it was to be a day I wont forget in a long time.
It was late morning and we were having a great time, while the wife wasnt looking I would turn my phone on to see if there was any Onix related messages or emails, I just couldnt help myself. There was a text message from our mechanic Mike Jackson saying Simon had been in an accident but there wasnt much news but didnt sound good. My initial reaction was one of concern but if im being honest at that point I wasnt too worried. I thought he had come off on a corner, maybe broke a collarbone or got a bit banged up as tends to happen to us cyclists.
I was getting disapproving looks from the wife so I went to a quiet place and rang his sponsor Phil Jones who hadnt heard the news as he had been stuck in a meeting. I left it with him,turned my phone off and returned to our fun packed day of dodgems and roller-coasters.
A few hours go by and im itching once again to turn my phone on so I sneak off saying I need the toilet. While im quickly running through emails a call comes in from Phil which turns me cold.
Simons been in a major hit and run accident where his survival is touch and go at best. It quickly turned out to be an almost copycat accident to the one in 2001. For this to happen once is terrible and unlucky but to happen twice is just not bloody fair and unbelievably unlucky.. I just couldnt believe it had happened again !!
I spend the rest of the day trying to get news and still keep a smiley face for the kids on our day out. That night the diagnosis of a broken back in 2 places,a broken sternum and a detached lung among other injuries has me thinking he will never ride a bike again, in fact I seem to remember a doctor saying he wouldnt ride a bike again after this one. Well after a few very worrying days for everyone and especially his wife Amanda it became clear he was going to pull through and just weeks after he started talking about recovery,getting back on a bike,training and new goals for the future...BLOODY AMAZING !!!
So where are we now?
As soon as this happened there was never any thought of our association being over. Maybe some sponsors would have gone cold on the idea once London 2012 had gone as a possibility,this never occurred to me at all. Straight away Myself and Phil discussed that if Simon decided not to ride or couldnt ride we could make Simon an ambassador for the brand and a road safety campaign for cyclists. It was very obvious to us that we had to give Simon something to focus on for his recovery and we would help in any way we could.
So far all of our plans now are to help Simon get back on the bike and when that day comes there will be an Onix Bike waiting for him. When Simon wants to race again we will register a team for Simon if we dont have one already to race in Onix colours.
I am very proud to be associated with Simon & call him a friend as well as being inspired by him. When things are going wrong or we have a problem with something in the business that we have to solve, I only have to think of what Simon has been through to get some perspective and say to myself this is not really a big problem and I can find a way to solve it..
Simon will be an ambassador and Onix rider for as long as he wants to be and I hope that will be for a very long time indeed.My wish is that Onix can be a part of a story that was incredible already and is now shaping up to be miraculous..
Here is to the future my friend, lets see what we can achieve together :-)
We should all be inspired by this amazing person and fellow cyclist...