Man, 47, walks again for first time after car accident in 1986 left him wheel-chair bound
Martial arts classes helped to strengthen Mark's bodyHe can now stand unaided and move a few steps



15:01 GMT, 3 September 2012

A man has walked for the first time in 26 years after a road accident left him in a wheelchair at the age of 21.

Mark Hornby sustained serious head injuries in 1986 and doctors warned his parent he could be a 'vegetable' for the rest of his life.

But Mr Hornby proved them wrong and thanks to martial arts classes he can now stand unaided and move a few steps.

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Mark Hornby stands with the aid of martial arts instructor John Turner

Mark Hornby stands with the aid of martial arts instructor John Turner

Mark started attending John Turner's academy in Brigg, Lincolnshire when it first opened in 2000. He said the classes gave him the confidence to start stretching himself.

'I like coming here,' said Mark.

'It’s made me much more flexible. John has made me stand and I’ve been breaking wooden boards.

'When I’m warming up and John tells me to stand for 10 seconds, I always increase my targets and I say make it 20.

'He gets me to recite about how I am calm, I am positive, I am confident in order to control my breathing.'

Now there is hope Mark will eventually be able to walk again properly.

Speaking about Mark’s remarkable journey, Mr Turner said: 'We are now on the brink of something phenomenal.

'I really believe Mark will be walking
in the not too distant future. He has the determination, perseverance
and spirit to make it happen.

'When he first came into the academy, he
didn’t know if he could do anything, so I taught him some hand
techniques. He eventually moved on to hand hitting, using nunchucks – a
type of martial arts fighting sticks – and board breaking.'

'I got him a new tripod frame and he’s now standing with that.

'He’s got strength
in his body to stand – the challenge now is overcoming his mind, so
that’s why we’re using the ancient martial arts methods of mind, body
and spirit.

'I know he
can do it – he’s not giving up.'

Mark Hornby with proud parents Liz and Bob

Mark Hornby with proud parents Liz and Bob. The couple didn't think their son would live after the car accident

Mark was hit by a car when he was a student at the University of Bradford in 1986, which left him in a coma for nine months.

He spent almost a year in Hull Royal Infirmary and was later transferred to Castle Hill Hospital to start his rehabilitation.

Mark’s father, Bob Hornby, 79, said: 'We
didn’t think he would live, to be honest. He had massive head and
internal injuries and he broke his legs so has been in a wheelchair and
we were told he always would be.'

Mark's parents said martial arts has given their son 'everything to live for' after it dramatically increased his mobility.

His father added: 'Mark has a fantastic sense of humour and that’s what’s kept him alive and going forward – he’s got his own house now and we have carers going in 24/7.'

Mark's mother Liz, 76, said: 'When he first came home from hospital he could do very little. They more or less told us to put him in a home because they said he would be like a vegetable and we wouldn’t be able to look after him, but I wanted to give it a try.

'His body has built new brain cells over the years. He’s had to build up the repetition of sending the signal that he wants to stand until it clicks into place.

'It’s been a very long and slow process. Every year he can do something that he couldn’t do the last, but it’s small progress all the same.'