‘I went to prison for drug dealing but I turned my life around after I nearly died – and now I’m living my childhood dream’

‘I went to prison for drug dealing but I turned my life around after I nearly died – and now I’m living my childhood dream’

Tyrone Mathurin, 42, grew up in Battersea and went to Wandsworth prison for drug dealing when he was 21.

But everything changed one day when, on his way to sign in at the police station as a condition of his bail, he crashed his motorbike.

When he woke up from an induced coma a week later, he was paralysed from head to toe. He spent seven weeks in a hospital bed.

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As he learned to walk, dress, cook and write for himself all over again, Tyrone decided it was time to turn his life around.

Now he’s part of Team BRIT – which aims to be the first all-disabled team to race in the Le Mans 24 Hour.

Tyrone said: “I come from a small part of Battersea, South London. And I guess the environment kind of put me in a position where there weren’t a lot of choices back then.”

Tyrone will be taking his race license test in February 2022

Speaking of the time he spent at Wandsworth prison before being released on bail, he added: “Prison is a place you don’t want to be.

“You’re just dealt with as a number. If you’re not wise you’re not going to get very far.”

But was the motorbike accident that truly changed everything.

“That’s when life changed for me,” he said, “I knew I wanted to change my life and keep out of trouble.

“It wasn’t just me who I was affecting by being involved in drugs, it was everyone around me.”

When the accident took place in February 2005, Tyrone was on his way to sign in at the police station as part of his bail.

He went over a deteriorated drain cover and woke up on the floor with an ambulance arriving. His mum had been just ten metres up the road when it had happened.

After the accident, he was told he might never walk again.

0 TB drivers credit Peter Markwickjpgron

Tyrone loves being part of the team

“It was heart wrenching,” Tyrone said.

“I spent months being unable to communicate with anyone apart from looking at letters of the alphabet to spell out words.

“I blamed myself for everything that had happened and felt like a burden on people, so my mental health was very low.”

Tyrone eventually built himself back up but he was left with weakness in his right leg, no movement in his right hip and no feeling from his right hand to his right elbow.

He could no longer ride his motorbike so he started looking for motorsports he could take part in.

That’s when he came across Team BRIT, which supports people with physical and psychological challenges in accessing motorsport through its racing academy.

Tyrone had always loved motorsports, but had thought of it as something he couldn’t do.

First, because he believed it was a rich man’s sport. Then, because of his disability.

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He explained the moment he realised he had written himself off: “My partner at the time asked if I wanted to try go-karting and I realised I’d kind of written myself off due to my disability.

“Because I was always thinking, ‘how am I going to get in? I’m not going to be able to handle controls, I can’t use the pedals’…. Thinking, yeah, I can’t really do anything.

“That is until I met team BRIT, it was a game changer for me.”

He did his first pilot drive in June 2021 and now he is preparing for his race license test in February.

This year he should be competing in the Britcar Championship. Then he hopes he can drive at Les Mans.

Speaking of racing, Tyrone said it was his “childhood dream” and added: “I’m raring to go. It’s a whole new world for me.

“If I can also inspire people with my story, by showing them that it’s never too late to turn your life around, I’ll feel very proud.

“If people take something from my story, I hope it’s to learn from mistakes, not give up on yourself and push yourself as much as you can.”

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