A Derry man who was critically injured in an accident five years ago is fitter, more confident and happier after engaging the Steps to Health programme.
Richie Quigley was overweight and had low self-esteem when he sought a referral from his GP to the programme, which is run in conjunction with Derry and Strabane District Council leisure facilities.
Since July, he has lost almost two stone and has continued to exercise after completing the programme.
Richie was critically injured in a horrific accident in Bangkok in 2013 and has had quite a journey to get back to fitness.
“When I first came back home I had to go through a programme of physiotherapy. It was designed to try to get my balance back.
“I had emergency surgery and sustained a fractured skull and a blood clot on my brain following my accident. Afterwards it was like I had vertigo and my balance and mobility was affected.”
Richie also lost his sense of smell and taste and his peripheral vision is damaged.
“That is never going to come back, it is a side effect of the operation. I went through a phase of almost feeling sorry for myself because I was stuck in that situation,” he said.
It was originally thought Richie would make a full recovery within around 12 months, but he says it has taken a bit longer.
“Part of that was down to me, because it is as much a mental thing as a physical thing.”
After completing a couch to 5k with Star Running Club, Richie sought the assistance of his GP and was referred to the Steps to Health programme.
“I think you have to be ready to improve yourself mentally and physically. Before I started the programme I was carrying weight, my blood pressure was high and I decided I want to improve my health.”
Richie encouraged everyone who wants to improve their mental and physical health to seek assistance from the programme.
“I felt sorry for myself and thought I was not going to get fit or I was not going to get healthy. After doing the couch to 5k I snapped out of it and decided I have to do this for my own mental and physical health.”
Through the programme, he received one to one training in Templemore Sports Complex.
“I was initially referred for two months, but ended up spending six months on the programme. The trainers were great, so understanding and encouraging. They encouraged me to push on and do a little bit more.”
Richie said he is now feeling the best he ever has and the programme has been a really positive experience for him.
“It has given me confidence, ability, routine and structure; the confidence to do things I probably couldn’t have done before, like going for a run or doing a charity spinathon, that has been the best thing.”
“I’m not a fitness fanatic, but I am now more conscious of what I eat and the programme has changed the way I look at things.”