Blind biker set for land speed record

Stuart Gunn in the saddle. Picture: Julie Bull
Stuart Gunn in the saddle. Picture: Julie Bull
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A BLIND man left paralysed down his right side following a motorbike crash is getting back on his machine in an attempt to break a world record.

Stuart Gunn, 39, who had suffered paralysis after a
collision with a van in 2002 sent him through the vehicle’s sunroof and windscreen,
lost his sight in 2008 after
suffering a fit.

However, this has not killed his daredevil spirit, as later this summer he plans to break the blind solo world land speed record on a motorbike of 164.87mph set by former soldier Billy Baxter in 2003, while raising much-needed funds for the Royal National Institute of Blind People, The Joey Dunlop Foundation, Diabetes UK & Scotland and Riders for Health.

Stuart, who lives on Broughton Road, said: “I was supposed to attempt this last summer but I had a bad fall and ripped my shoulder. We’ve had three good practice runs out at East Fortune race track, where we’ve managed to get up to about 120mph and I’m confident I’ll be able to go even faster once I have a longer track to work with.”

Stuart and his dad, Geoff, who rides behind him during the attempts, have had to get creative with the technical aspects of the challenge to
ensure the 6ft 4in biker stays safe while hurtling along.

Stuart explained: “We’ve had to make modifications to the bike to ensure my right side stays in place, but can also be moved out of harm’s way, should I lose control.

“We knew we would need some way of communicating 
during the ride, and to be honest we had hoped to get enough sponsorship to purchase suitable comms [communications equipment].

“We’ve had to make do and for now it turns out
our phones actually do the trick.”

Geoff, 63, said: “I’m immensely proud. If I’d been through all he had I’d be crying in corner, but not Stuart. He just gets on with it.”

And Geoff’s made even prouder by the fact this attempt comes less than a year after Stuart was attacked and robbed in his own home by a knife-wielding thug.

Back in November, the Evening News reported how Stuart had answered his door to be confronted by a man who robbed him of his wallet, watch, mobile and sunglasses while pressing a knife to his throat so hard he broke the skin.

When Stuart retaliated to the foul insult by hitting him with one of his crutches, the thief slashed his face.

Stuart said: “I use a wheelchair when I’m out, but often use crutches in the house.
I think he was expecting someone in a wheelchair to answer and was taken aback to get a 6ft 4in guy covered in tattoos.

“The police think he put the knife to my throat to force me to back into the house, so he could steal more.

“I wasn’t trying to be brave by not moving, I honestly didn’t realise what he was doing. But when he started calling me names, I lashed out and that’s when he slashed me.”

Despite a public appeal, the robber was never caught.

Stuart added: “It does worry me that he’s still out there. Not for me, but because someone like that would probably do the same thing to a granny or, God forbid, a child. Not everyone is as big as I am.”

• For more information or to sponsor Stuart, visit www.raspberryrippleracing.com, or email rr@raspberryrippleracing.com