'I know I'm fortunate to still be here' says Jamie Hamilton
Twelve months on from the TT horror crash which almost claimed his life, Jamie Hamilton has been back to visit the scene of his high-speed accident on the Isle of Man.
The Ballyclare rider sustained head injuries and serious arm and leg fractures after coming off on the Cronk-y-Voddy Straight at the 11th Milestone on the second lap of last year's Senior TT, which was subsequently red-flagged.
Riders can reach speeds of over 180 miles per hour on that section of the course and while Hamilton's survival to tell the tale may be something miraculous, his road to recovery remains a long one.
He was initially airlifted to hospital in Douglas, where his condition was described as 'critical', before being flown to Aintree University Hospital in Liverpool for more specialist treatment of his injuries.
"I went to the end of Cronk-y-Voddy Straight to have a look at the scene of my accident, appreciate the speed I came off at and understand something more about what happened," explained the 25-year-old.
"I saw the trees and signpost that I hit and met some of the people who helped saved my life.
"Thankfully I'm quite easy going and it didn't bother me too much coming back.
"I know I'm fortunate to still be here and what happened to Malachi (Mitchell-Thomas) at the North West 200 made me realise how lucky I am and how much worse it could have been.
"I've been amazed at all the support I am still receiving and am grateful that I haven't been forgotten about."
Hats off to Mitchell-Thomas
Like Hamilton, Mitchell-Thomas was a member of former racer John Burrows' Cookstown BE Racing team, before being killed in a crash during a Supertwins race at the first international road race of the year in Northern Ireland last month.
"It has been difficult for the team and for John as Malachi's death came just less than a year after my serious smash.
"Malachi made a similar impression on the team and with John's family in that he bonded very well with his children, so in many ways there are a lot of comparisons between me and Mal," added the 2009 British Superstock 600cc champion.
"Everyone is getting through it as best they can and rallying round to support Mal's dad Kevin in every way possible.
"I've been making hats in the distinctive style that Malachi wore, inscribed with the logo that he had on his screen, with the aim of selling them and raising some money for Kevin and the family.
"It was a brainwave I had and I just wanted to give something back, but the response has been unbelievable.
"I knew the hats would be popular but not as popular as they have been.
"Kevin is a proud man and didn't want to be on the receiving end of people's charity but hopefully this will help in some small way and prove to Kevin how big an impact his son had on the sport in a short space of time."
More surgery imminent
Hamilton's rehabilitation is continuing, although the Ballyclare man admits the "healing process is very slow".
"I went to hospital last Tuesday in the hope that I might get the cage removed from my leg but unfortunately it didn't happen.
"I'm not getting any strength back into it and they're bringing me back in another month's time. If things haven't improved by then, I will have to have another operation.
"I underwent surgery on my arm recently and it is of much more concern than the leg.
"A lot of people have said 'if Ian Hutchinson can come back the way he did, then you can do it too', but it is a totally different situation.
"If I just had the leg to worry about, I'd probably be back racing again but there is the arm and the head injuries, which include memory lapses.
"I'm unsure about what the future holds but if I am able to come back I need to believe that I would be in with a chance of winning races again."
Hamilton has won a British championship and Irish road race championships and says he doesn't want to be competing just to make up the numbers.
"I need to have the belief that I could contend to win a TT race or I won't be out there at all.
"I realise that the extent of the injuries to my head may mean that my reactions may not be good enough when the high speeds kick in.
"But whenever I feel anyway fit enough, I'll get on a motorbike, then play it by ear and see what's possible.
"Either way I'll always be involved with motorbikes and hopefully I'll be able to help out with John's team a bit more when my fitness improves.
"The way the Burrows team have treated me has been second to none and I'd like to stay involved and repay them for their loyalty through some very tough times," concluded the winner of the Best Newcomer Award at the 2012 TT meeting.