Seriously hurt in a cycling accident on March 3rd 2013, our great friend and colleague Michael Bonney broke his neck and suffered spinal damage resulting in a life changing injury. This new phase in Michael's life began with his wedding to his partner Linzi on the 22nd March 2013.
Michael's injury has been a huge shock to all of his family and friends. Immediately after his accident MIchael's situation was very dire and we were obviously concerned beyond words. Initial scans and x-rays showed that Michael had suffered a complete fracture of the C3 vertebrae and susbsequent spinal cord damage. The result is that he is now tetraplegic and is paralysed from the neck down. However, In the days that followed Michael has made remarkable progress. His strength of mind is incredible and he is working with his consultants and the fantastic medical staff at the James Cook University Hospital to reassemble his life and go forward from this set-back.
MIchael and his long-term partner Linzi Saunders were just short of their 25th 'non-anniversary', as they called it, and decided that their first act in the next chapter of their story was to get married. So in a small ceremony with the company of close friends and family they tied the knot in the JCUH chapel. it was a joyful ceremony and it's clear there is a lot more to come from Mr and Mrs Bonney.
For those of you who know MIchael personally or by reputation you can be sure that he is full of ideas and always working towards his next goal. In the short term he will be in the JCUH spinal unit, before moving into their rehabilition program. He is treating the whole process as a training regime, striving to get to each next level and ticking his progress chart. As you can imagine he is ahead of schedule. As an example of sheer determination Michael is doing an incredible job.
One of Michael's immediate goals is getting himself back on-line and back in communication with everyone. We are working hard to ensure this is as immenent as possible, so please stay tuned to the offical Orange bikes facbook page and indeed MIchael's own. Keep the support coming, it is all appreciated and it all helps.
Michael and Linzi's wedding received coverage in the news press and on industry web sites, The BikeBiz article is here and the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald's front page article is reproduced here
Penrith couple's hospital wedding joy.
EDEN man Michael Bonney, critically injured while taking part in a cycling event earlier this month, was due to marry his long-term partner, Linzi Saunders, in a hospital chapel yesterday afternoon.
Michael and Linzi (pictured), of Eamont Bridge, near Penrith, will have been together for 25 years at the start of April and they decided to tie the knot in the wake of his devastating accident during the Eden Valley Epic sportive on 3rd March.
A 54-year-old managing director of Orange Mountain Bikes, Michael suffered a broken neck which has resulted in paralysis, and he is being treated in the high dependency unit at the James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough.
Although unable to breathe for himself at present, he is able to communicate, and the couple have taken the decision to get married. A brief ceremony in the hospital chapel — in the company of staff and 30 family members and close friends — was arranged for yesterday.
“We had joked (before the sportive) about our 25th ‘non-wedding’ anniversary and said that we might go away and surprise people,” Linzi told the Herald. “Michael wants the day to be a celebration and to be about the wedding rather than focusing on his disability; trying to make it as exciting and as happy as possible.
“We just want to demonstrate to people that this is a life partnership — maybe we should have done it years ago.”
Music is one of Michael’s many passions, and the songs chosen for the couple’s big day are The Cure’s Friday I’m in Love and Take Me Back Home, by Soulsavers. “Ultimately, getting back home is Michael’s goal,” said Linzi, a 44-year-old practice manager at Carlisle-based H&H Land and Property.
“There will be a lot of rehabilitation and work to do but the aim is to get home. The hospital staff have moved mountains to get the room set up for the wedding — there are so many people we have got to thank.”
An avid road cyclist, Michael had entered the Eden Valley Epic — in which more than 1,000 riders took part — following months of treatment for a back problem. It was his first event for some time. However, as he was cycling on a minor road near Dufton, he lost control of his bike and was catapulted over the handlebars. He broke his neck in the subsequent fall, and it was later discovered that he had suffered a C3 “complete” spinal cord injury and was paralysed. This C3 injury, Linzi explained, is practically the same as that sustained by Hollywood actor Christopher Reeve in a fall from a horse.
That Michael survived at all was due to the care he received immediately after the accident. First aid was administered and resuscitation given by a number of doctors who, by chance, were passing the scene while taking part in the Eden Valley Epic. This was life-saving treatment, as was the swift action of Penrith-based BEEP doctor Theo Weston and paramedics who were also alerted.
Linzi said: “That care was just fantastic — we just cannot thank them enough. If nothing else the people who were there saved Michael’s brain. Although his body is paralysed, he has still got his mind and other faculties and has had a chance to say things to his friends and family. A lot of friends of ours are involved in sports and various outdoor activities and have realised how important it is to have some awareness of basic first aid.
“Michael wasn’t expected to pull through, and on hearing that you just crumble, but after that we got on with the practicalities. It is all you can do — keep going and be strong for him.”
Linzi admitted that an immense show of support since Michael’s accident had been “overwhelming”. She has read to her partner all the messages left on the Orange Mountain Bikes Facebook page, which have been sent from across the globe.
“We even had a get well card from an eight-year-old boy in Scotland who has got an Orange mountain bike. It is fantastic to hear that Michael has touched so many people’s lives. He does enjoy hearing all the messages,” she said.
Both Michael and Linzi hail from County Durham, and lived at Orton for a time before their move to Eamont Bridge. This was made to be near Ullswater Yacht Club, where they have been members and keen sailors. They have also been regular visitors to Penrith’s North Lakes Hotel and Spa leisure club.
Linzi had been at the North Lakes gym while Michael took part in the Eden Valley Epic. “While I was walking home I saw Theo Weston in the BEEP car heading towards the A66. I thought that he would be going to the Epic, never thinking for a moment that I would become involved,” she said.
Michael has worked for Orange Mountain Bikes — founded by Lester Noble, of Brougham, near Penrith, and Steve Wade — since the mid-1990s. He has travelled all over the world promoting Orange and is what a company spokesman described as its “lynchpin”.
Linzi described Michael as a “very strong” character. “He never understands where there are obstacles in the way. He sees things that he wants to get done and normally achieves. He is applying that ethos to his recovery,” she added.
Joanne Burgess - Sports Editor