A Royal Wootton Bassett biker has visited the barber for the first time in a year after growing his hair and beard for charity.
Matt Rostron, 30, decided to thank hospital staff for their kindness after suffering two serious motorcycle accidents, one of which left him paralysed, by not cutting his hair or shaving for 12 months, in contrast to his previous appearance – clean-shaven with a shaved head.
“I was bald as a baby’s bum,” said Mr Rostron, of Garraways, whose sponsorship is going to the NHS Foundation Trust Charitable Fund.
Mr Rostron, a qualified bike mechanic who works as a tyre fitter at ATS in Chippenham, spent Christmas four years ago in Swindon’s Great Western Hospital after skidding on black ice at Lyneham Banks.
It wasn’t until a week after the accident that he was admitted.
“I got up straight away to get out of the way of oncoming cars and rode home,” he said. “A week later I was getting tingly cold sensations in my legs.
“It was getting to the point where I was wearing two pairs of jogging bottoms. I got into a hot bath and I couldn’t feel the heat until my belly button.”
Luckily he had been going to the gym five days a week and had enough upper body strength to pull himself out of the bath.
It took 11 months of hard work before he was able to start walking again, and another two before he could manage unaided.
He said: “The doctors said it would take two or three years. It hit me and I thought, I ain’t letting that happen. I pushed myself, I was determined. Even the doctors were quite surprised.”
Despite his ordeal he couldn’t stay off his motorbike and in 2011 he hit a deer and shattered his ankle, collar bone and thumb.
Mr Rostron has not ridden since, but said he would get back on his bike tomorrow if it hadn’t been written off. “It’s in my blood. It hasn’t scared me,” he said.
“I raced bikes for about eight years. My old man got me into motorbike racing when I was 15. I love bikes.”
After spending three-and-a-half months at the GWH, he said: “I’m doing this because the hospital staff and paramedics helped me out and kept me alive. I got to know all the nurses, and the night staff who made me tea and toast at three or four in the morning.”
Much to his and his partner Talia’s relief, 12 months of growth fell to the floor of Chippenham’s Gary Hatto barbers on Tuesday.
“It’s been a challenge,” said Mr Rostron. “I’ve had things shouted at me in the street – oh look, it’s Jesus, or Cast Away.
“At work customers look at me a bit funny, but my bosses have been understanding.”
He said his friends’ disbelief that he could keep it going made him determined to prove them wrong.
His mum works for HSBC in Chippenham and the bank has offered to match pound-for-pound what he can raise – so far £650.
To donate, visit www.justgiving.