Miraculous recovery - man blinded in firework display turned racing driver

  • A warning some viewers may find images in Charlotte Gay's report distressing.

A man who was blinded when a firework exploded in his face has astonished doctors by becoming a licensed racing car driver.

Chris Hignell from Yate in South Gloucestershire thought his life was over after the accident but after several years of plastic surgery he became one of a handful of partially sighted competitive racing car drivers.

The incident with the firework display left Chris with such horrific facial injuries his wife Wendy didn't think he would survive the night.

"They couldn't even distinguish a face basically so that in itself was just so scary to know what they may or may not find."

As his injuries were so severe Chris' future prospects looked bleak.

He said, "Looking forward was almost impossible, I was a shadow of a man walking around the house in my pjs, in pain all the time, on lots and lots of drugs. It just didn't feel like there was a future at all at that point."

Chris Hignell had his face rebuilt using pioneering surgery. Credit: Family photo

It took years of plastic surgery remove the blackened remains of the rocket and rebuild Chris an eyelid.

While much of his recovery was spent trying to get back to the way things were, Chris thought decided it was the motivation he needed to try his life long dream to race cars at Castle Combe.

Chris said, "The governing body of motorsport basically said no for five years. They said anyone with this like of injury losing an eye had to wait for five years."

And that's what he did.

Chris Hignell became of one of only a handful of drivers with partial sight on the list of 38,000 registered racers in the UK .

His car had to be adapted but only with minimal changes such as an extra wide mirror and adjustments to his crash helmet.

Chris was often the only disabled driver on the racetrack but he says that did not mean he was given an easy time by his competition.

"No absolutely, no slack at all and I never asked for any. It's a fact I have one eye just deal with it."

Thirteen years once since Chris lost his left eye he cannot believe how far he's come and says to anyone going through times of difficulty there is hope at the end of it.

The 62-year-old has now retired but says he's looking forward to getting back out on the track when restrictions are eased.

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