A MAN who was left wheelchair-bound after suffering a massive stroke is hoping to prove medics wrong by getting back on his feet in the new year.
Richard Watts was just 46 when he was left paralysed by the stroke in April 2013, and has needed round-the-clock care ever since.
But despite being told by doctors that he would be unable to walk again, the determined former Mail journalist has vowed to defy the experts as he continues to make remarkable progress from the life-changing condition.
“Everybody makes a New Year’s resolution, and mine is to walk again,” said Richard.
“I’ve been able to get up over the last few weeks with a crutch. I still need a lot of help from the physios, but it’s a start.”
Richard was rushed into the University Hospital of North Tees after his mum Marion Tritschler found him laid on the bathroom floor of the family home in Hart Station.
She says she could tell by his face what had happened, and after a series of tests her worst fears were confirmed.
He spent a week at the hospital in Stockton before being moved onto the neurological ward at James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, and after a short spell in the University Hospital of Hartlepool he was then moved into Yohden Hall care complex in Blackhall where he has remained ever since.
But despite his woes, Richard is determined to stay positive and with the help of his family and friends – most notably his brother Colin – he is hoping for a brighter 2015.
He added: “I’m happy to be alive. I could have been dead, this could have killed me.
“A lot of times I’ve felt negative. I’m stuck in a care home full of elderly people. Care homes are supposed to be for older people, but I’m still only young.
“I want to get out, I want to go home.
“But I can’t. But there’s no point sitting feeling sorry for myself, and while I have to take each day as it comes and not look too far ahead, I want to walk again.
“And I will.”
Marion, 73, has put her own life on hold to care for her son, and says the friends and family who have rallied round have helped to keep Ricahrd’s spirits up.
She said: “Richard has two brothers, Colin and Gavin. Gavin lives away but Colin is in to see him every day, Richard says he is like his second mother, he has really dragged him along to help him get better.
“People ask me how do I cope, because I’m here every day and it is physically and mentally tiring.
“But what are you supposed to do? Sit down and cry?”
Sports-mad Richard has lost none of his sparkle despite his predicament, and even though his speech is impaired his memory remains strong and he regularly walks away with the top prize at the general knowledge quiz nights at Yohden Hall.
He is also a regular at Hartlepool United games, and spent his summer watching Blackhall cricket team where he spent years as a popular player, topping the North Yorkshire and South Durham league bowling averages one year.
Richard added: “Things like that keep me going. Some of the cricket lads come in and talk about sport, and I like going to see Pools even though I wish they could win a few more games.
“I’ve got Sky Sports in my room, and I like watching the footy. I saw Sunderland beat the Geordies, I enjoyed that one!
“Roy Kelly was my old boss at the Mail, he visits me and makes me laugh.
“The physios and nurses are all helping me, I’ve got a lot of people to thank for helping me.
“If you come and see me this time next year, hopefully I will be back home and up on my feet.
“That’s my target. I’m not giving up.”