A MAN who suffered severe brain damage when he was knocked off his bike by a car 17 years ago has cycled on roads for the first time since the accident.

Hamish McCullough, from Abingdon, took part in the last 5km of the White Horse Challenge on a trike-tandem, raising £1,300 to help people who, like him, are recovering from brain injuries.

He was a 24-year-old student at Oxford Brookes University when he was knocked from his bike as he cycled on Fawler Road, close to Kingston Lisle, near Wantage, on July 27, 2001.

Recalling the incident on a fundraising page, he wrote: “I spent the best part of that year in hospital and the subsequent 17 years in rehabilitation piecing my life back together with the help of healthcare professionals, friends, and of course my family.

“I lost much that day, including my ability to talk and my spontaneous freedom, physically and mentally.

“While I have developed a characterful form of sign language and relearned to walk, my injury shook my mind like a snow-globe, and it took many years for me to fully understand the new cognitive landscape into which I found myself thrown.”

Mr McCullough was hit by the wing mirror of a Peugeot, whose driver only had a provisional licence and no insurance.

He later sued the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) – the industry body which compensates victims of uninsured drivers – and was awarded a £2.4m payout in 2010.

As he reached the finish line at Shrivenham Memorial Hall on April 22, it was the culmination of six months of hard work for the 41-year-old who has clocked up 100km in the gym as part of his training.

Support worker Matt Mooney, who with Robert Brough helped him complete the cycle on the disability-friendly bike, said: “This is an incredible achievement: the determination Hamish has demonstrated in his rehab since his accident in 2001 is astounding.

“To get back on his bike for the first time after what he’s been through is beyond brave.

"Hamish is a true inspiration, and today is a culmination of all his hard work. It’s been a privilege to be a part of.”

Commenting on his aim to raise money for chosen causes The Silverline Charity and The Children’s Brain Injury Trust, Mr McCullough wrote: “I received so much assistance through the darker times of my rehabilitation and while I know no one could have done the rehab for me, without the support and encouragement of others, I doubt I would have come so far. It is because of this that I now find real meaning in giving something back to the community in which I have found myself.”

He added: “I feel it is important for those of us who have been through such trauma to shine a light for those most vulnerable.

“To show life can be lived and equilibrium can be found again.”