The Norwich para-paddler eyeing the Paralympics after rebuilding his life following serious crash

  • Watch a report from ITV News Anglia's Rob Setchell.

Shaun Cook remembers the moment doctors told him he'd never walk again. He remembers the pain, the hopelessness, the feeling that the active life he loved was over.

The fact he was alive was remarkable in itself. He had spent six weeks in a coma.

A motorbike crash, close to the seafront in Great Yarmouth, had left him with devastating injuries including a broken back.

Almost four years on, his recovery from the physical and mental scars of what happened that day is a work in progress.

Shaun Cook has had extensive therapy as part of his recovery. Credit: ITV News Anglia

He has had extensive neurotherapy but one of the most significant parts of his rehabilitation has taken place in an unconventional setting: Norwich Canoe Club.

The 35-year-old, from Bintree near Dereham, is one of the club's 'para-paddlers'.

"You forget yourself," he said. "You don't need to use your legs so you don't think about it. It's a certain sense of normality, I guess.

"When the doctor comes in the room and says you're not going to walk again, you immediately think 'my life is over'. What am I going to do?

"You don't realise what's out there when you start looking and when you start dedicating yourself to it, things aren't as scary anymore. It's been a lifesaver."

Shaun Cook dreams of representing Team GB. Credit: ITV News Anglia

With the help of his coach Tim Scott, Shaun has made rapid progress.

He has almost halved his 200m sprint time - and is only a few seconds away from the qualifying time needed to train with Team GB's development squads.

His dream is to compete in the Paralympics and his motivation, he said, is his teenage son.

He said: "When I was sedated, whenever he came into the medical room at my bedside I would actually try and wake up. It's on my reports.

"I would try and open my eyes, try and move. My heart rate would spike and all sorts, just [by] having him around.

"He's my motivation. He's watching. He's seeing everything I do and I've got to be strong for him and push forwards."Shaun is trying to raise tens of thousands of pounds online to cover equipment and competition costs. His fundraising page is here.