Martin Hibbert: Manchester Arena survivor plans to climb Mount Kilimanjaro for charity

Martin Hibbert, 44, riding in a custom-built handbike Credit: PA

A man from Chorley who was left paralysed from the waist down after the Manchester Arena attack is preparing to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for others with spinal injuries.

Martin Hibbert, 44, was struck by 22 pieces of shrapnel in the bombing when he and his teenage daughter when in the city rooms when Salman Abedi killed 22 people and injured hundreds of others at the Ariana Grande concert in 2017.

Martin was the closest person to the blast to survive and underwent radical surgery in Australia to regain some use of his legs.

Mr Hibbert is now planning to take a Paralympic torch from the 2012 London Games to the top of Africa’s highest mountain in September and hopes to raise £1 million for the Spinal Injuries Association.

Mr Hibbert said: "I want to turn an appalling act of terror into a force for greater good."

The football agent will use a custom-built handbike for the seven to 10-day challenge, which he said he was inspired to do after learning only one in three people with spinal cord injuries receive treatment at specialist centres.

He said: "We thought we would try and do something within the Paralympic year just to highlight don’t write disabled people off, we can still do a lot and we are still strong and with the right help and support you can achieve anything."

Following the announcement of his epic challenge, a number of celebrities sent good luck messages.

Since his recovery, Mr Hibbert has worked with the Spinal Injuries Association as a trustee to offer hope, confidence and practical skills to other people paralysed by spinal cord injury.

Mr Hibbert was paralysed from the waist down in the Manchester Arena bombing (Cloud Force Marketing/Sam Manton

He added: "When I was told I wasn’t going to walk again, it was a case of, well, I’m alive, I’ve still got my brain and my arms and my hands so there’s still a lot I can do."

He will be joined on the climb by Rob Grew, who ran into the Manchester Arena immediately after the explosion to offer help to the severely injured casualties, and Stuart Wildman, the head nurse at the Major Trauma Centre at Salford Royal who treated Mr Hibbert when he was admitted after his injury.

He said: "To do it with those two people is going to be amazing and I think there will be a lot of tears."

ITV Granada Reports presenters Gamal Fahnbulleh and Elaine Willcox spoke to Mr Hibbert who said he wanted to turn an appalling act of terror into a force for good and it had to be an epic challenge.

He is a trustee for the Spinal Injuries Association Credit: Cloud Force Marketing/Sam Manton

Mr Hibbert said he is keen to get back into the gym once they reopen next month and start a specialised fitness regime to prepare for the trip.

Nik Hartley OBE, chief executive of Spinal Injuries Association, said: "Martin is a football-loving family man whose life changed unexpectedly and forever one night in Manchester.

"With grit and determination, he has rebuilt his life and is now supporting other injured people.

"Too often disabled people are seen as second-class citizens, but Martin’s incredible climb is a powerful statement of why achieving one’s goals should not be defined by disability."

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