Losing my arm made me who I am

William Sayers.
William Sayers.

A Donemana man who lost his right arm in an horrific farm accident said if he had listened to his father it never would have happened.

William Sayers was only 12 years-old when his arm was severed after an accident involving the PTO shaft at the back of a tractor on his family’s farm.

The Tyrone man, now 38, who regularly speaks about his experiences to warn other people of the dangers on farms will be honoured with a civic reception in the Guildhall tonight.

William’s life was changed forever on Easter Monday 1990 while helping out on the farm.

“Dad had told me the do’s and dont’s,” he said, “and one of those was not to go near the PTO shaft. (a rotating shaft that sucks in the slurry).

“I came out after having my tea just after 8 p.m. with my coat which wasn’t zipped up properly. The machine wasn’t working to my satisfaction so I decided to make a few alterations.”

Seconds later William was lying slumped on the ground looking at his severed arm beside him.

He managed to get himself on his feet and walk to the farmhouse.

“My sister looked out the window and called out - ‘William’s coming down and he’s only got one arm.’ Just minutes earlier I had left the house with two arms.

“I can still remember the look on my mum’s face and the fear in her eyes as she watched me being driven away in the car.

“She was frightened that she may never see me again.”

On the journey to the hospital William’s father feared his son my not survive as the wound had stopped bleeding, making him think his son was bleeding internally.

As William lay in hospital he was told the devastating news that they could not save his arm.

“I asked ‘why me’ when I was in the hospital,” he said. “Now I say why not. I know now that God has a plan for me. And he has been good to me.

“I have been blessed with my wife and children. If I hadn’t lost my arm I wouldn’t be the person that I am today.”

The accident has given William a completely different outlook on life.

“My body adjusted to life without my right arm,” he said. “Yes there were challenges such as learning to do a shirt and tie and write with my left hand. I can tie my shoes with one hand now and I learned to swim again.

“And I can drive.”

Sadly the only thing that the accident stopped William from doing was taking over the family farm when he was an adult, a blow as his is the Sayers family’s only son. Ironically he now sells tractors for a living.

William now does talks all over Northern Ireland to get his message across about farm safety.

“This accident happened because of my own stupidity and ignorance,” he said. “You could be next.

“The accident was my own doing and my own fault. It was my mistake. I disobeyed. I hope that I can prevent anything like this ever happening again. There have been 100 fatalities on farms in the past 10 years.

“Farming can be a lonely job. If my friend Jonathan hadn’t been there to switch the PTO shaft off that day I would be dead.

“You are so busy that sometimes safety comes second. You just never think it will happen to you. I am just thankful that I am here and alive to tell the story.”