Don't miss a story sign up to the North Devon Gazette's FREE daily newsletter CLICK HERE

Paralysed Bideford diver takes on cross-country ride

PUBLISHED: 09:54 24 August 2016 | UPDATED: 10:02 24 August 2016

Simon Mackie on his leighweight hand bike, purchased in part by an Aspire grant.

Simon Mackie on his leighweight hand bike, purchased in part by an Aspire grant.


Bideford man left paralysed after diving incident is planning a cross-country cycle ride for the charity which helped him.

A Bideford man left paralysed after a diving incident is planning a cross-country cycle to raise money for charity.

Simon Mackie, 41, got the bends after surfacing too quickly from a deep dive, leaving his spinal cord crushed and his legs with little movement.

He can walk while supported on crutches but thanks to the help of the charity Aspire has got himself a hand racing bike.

Simon was working as a diving instructor in the Philippines when one day he was searching for sharks at 120 metres depth.

He said: “On this occasion however, I stayed down too long and didn’t complete a decompression stop on the way up, so I ran out of oxygen.

“As a result, I had to resurface without letting my body adjust to the changing pressure, and when I got out of the sea I immediately knew I was in trouble. I truly thought I was going to die.

“Sure enough, the bends hit me with full force, and I passed out and fell face forward into the incoming sea. It was only thanks to some observant people on the beach that I didn’t drown.”

After being resuscitated, Simon was rushed to hospital to be placed in a dive chamber, and then was flown back to the UK where he stayed in Salisbury Spinal Injury Centre.

When he moved to Bideford, Simon struggled to get around using a wheelchair.

He said: “Aspire helped me purchase a heavy-weight steel hand cycle to help me get out and indulge in cycling again – albeit in a different way from my ultra-fit days.

“They also helped me purchase a light-weight racing hand bike so I can get back into fast cycling and my goal is to travel the whole width of the UK in a coast to coast challenge.

“I will of course be raising money for Aspire who has helped give me my freedom back.”

Aspire runs a fundraising swim each year to help make people’s lives easier following spinal cord injury. Register at:

Other News Stories

Yesterday, 15:05

Want to help beat cancer? Join the Relay For Life event at Barnstaple Rugby Club today (Saturday) and right through the night until Sunday lunchtime

Read more
Yesterday, 15:20

The MetOffice has issued a yellow weather warning for heavy rainfall and thunderstorms across North Devon today (Saturday).

Read more
Yesterday, 12:00

Take a look at the super pictures our iwitness24 photographers have been capturing this week.

Read more
Yesterday, 10:00

Five days of Chulmleigh Old Fair 2017 from Tuesday, July 25 to Sunday, July 30

Read more
Yesterday, 09:00

Hundreds turned out for the annual Dogs Trust Ilfracombe Fun Day at Mullacott Equestrian Centre

Read more
Yesterday, 08:00

Appeal started by Ilfracombe friends sees offers flood in from all over the UK and as far away as New Zealand.

Read more
Fri, 16:48

Club gets refurbished changing facilities in time for the new football season

Read more
Fri, 16:00

Butcher’s knives and bayonette are among 100 knives handed in at Barnstaple Police Station - but front desk staff urge people not to wait for an amnesty to hand in blades.

Read more
Fri, 13:50

Bideford New Year’s Eve celebrations will continue this year, as organisers promise children and adult’s entertainment, as well as ‘bigger and better’ fireworks than ever.

Read more
Fri, 13:22

North Devon flood alerts are in place and the Met Office is warning up to two centimetres of rain could fall in a very short time

Read more

Local Weather



max temp: 19°C

min temp: 14°C

Most Read News

Useful Links

Advertise in the paper
Submit a Story
Subscribe to the paper
North Devon Football League
Order Photos
Family notices
Google Plus Page
Reader Travel

Family Notices 24

Read Online

Read the North Devon Gazette e-edition E-edition

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Show Job Lists

Local business directory

North Devon's trusted business finder

Find planning applications