A biker who was told he would never walk again and had just a 30 per cent chance of survival has completed a lifelong dream, with support of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.
Talan Skeels-Piggins, 48, was left paralysed from the chest down following a motorbike accident in 2003.
Now, 16 years on, he has travelled to the island for the first time and completed the parade lap at the Classic TT.
Talan, a former Royal Navy fighter controller, also raised the profile of The Bike Experience, a Wiltshire-based charity he set up to help people who have been seriously injured learn to ride through special training events.
Speaking after his first visit, Talan said it had been a wonderful experience: ‘From start to finish, this has been a truly memorable trip. The Isle of Man is a fabulous place and to meet so many other like-minded bike fans and racers and actually go around the famous TT course was a dream come true.
‘When you are paralysed and told by medics you will never walk again, the wheelchair becomes a prison you cannot escape but biking gives you total fulfilment and exhilaration.
‘It allows you to grow in confidence and improves your strength and balance. It is good for physical as well as mental wellbeing and there’s no question learning to ride or being able to ride again can change people's lives.
‘This is why I set up the charity and hopefully this week has shown people what they thought was impossible is actually possible.’
Talan completed his lap of the TT course in 25 minutes, an average speed in the region of 90 miles per hour, a pace he was thrilled with.
‘I loved every minute of it,’ he added, ‘and am already planning to come back next year. Even when your life changes, from paraplegics like myself to amputees to those who suffer brain injuries or sight difficulties, you can achieve magnificent feats.’
Talan, who shattered his spine and broke his neck during the 2003 accident, is a determined character. He started skiing at the age of nine and was selected to compete for the Great Britain paralympic team in the 2010 Winter Paralympics.
He came to the island with his mechanic with travel assistance from the Steam Packet Company, and also had the opportunity to meet TT great, 15-time world champion Giacomo Agostini who led the parade lap around the 37.73-mile course.
Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘Talan is truly inspiring and a very driven man. He not only continues to strap himself to a motorbike which has been adapted to meet his needs but, through The Bike Experience, allows other disabled individuals the chance to experience the sense of freedom and joy that motorcycling can bring.
‘We were pleased to bring him to the island and support him and his charity.’