Disability Motorsport Scotland puts Scots firmly in the driving seat

It is 35 years since a road traffic accident changed the direction of Colin Duthie’s life forever.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 16th November 2019, 2:06 am
In the driving seat...more than 200 people have enjoyed free track days at Knockhill and Kames since Disability Motorsport Scotland was founded three years ago.
In the driving seat...more than 200 people have enjoyed free track days at Knockhill and Kames since Disability Motorsport Scotland was founded three years ago.

Riding pillion on his friend’s bike, a lorry lost control and pinned its wheel against Colin’s legs.

As a result, his left leg was degloved and he lost his right leg above the knee.

But Colin considers himself lucky every day – not only that he survived but because, as he puts it, he is an oridinary man who has lived an extraordinary life.

Colin Duthie lost his leg in a road traffic accident 35 years ago but it hasn't stopped him helping others, with a little help from volunteers and an adapted Audi Quattro A3.

Having spent almost a year in hospital recovering, Colin lost his way a little bit.

But in October 1989, he married his childhood sweetheart Julie and they quickly had two sons, Ian (27) and Stuart (26).

Julie also challenged him to start living his life again, by volunteering and taking part in charity events.

Initially, Colin was not sure he’d be able to do it.

There have been many firsts for double hand transplant mum Cor Hutton in the last ten months, including giving the thumbs up at a recent track day. (Pic: Gary McCabe)

He recalled: “She came up with the idea of me taking part in the Israel Experience, a 250-mile cycle ride round Israel over five days.

“I asked how she expcted me to do that and her reply was: I’ve known you all my life and you’ve never given up on anything. Find a way.”

It was the proverbial kick up the backside Colin needed and in 1995 he did the Israel Experience on his three-wheel hand cycle in aid of the British Heart Foundation.

He later went on to pull a Boeing 757 110 metres along a runway with 30 others to win a Guinness World Record and scaled Ben Nevis in his wheelchair for Scope UK and Capability Scotland.

Colin was humbled by his visit to the House of Lords last month where he was named in the Shaw Trust's Power 100 - a list of the most influential disabled people in the UK.

Colin had been bitten by the charity adventure bug and he’d also started living life to the full – becoming a member of the Carrick Riding for the Disabled Group, of which he is now chairman and helping to found Ayrshire Sportsability, of which he is still finance and fundraising convener.

But three years ago, after racing a car for the first time round a track, he hit upon the idea of a new charity for which he became one of its original founders – Disability Motorsport Scotland.

Colin (55) explained: “All my anxiety and nerves went away when I was going round the track.

“I coined the phrase high-octane mindfulness because that’s what it was.

“It gave me a chance to forget the daily struggle of staying upright on my left leg which, given the amount of skin grafts it’s had, does a great job for me but it is a struggle every day.

“I figured if it helped me so much, it would surely help others too.

“So along with a couple of others, I started the charity.”

Three years down the line, Disability Motorsport Scotland hosts some eight come and try events every year at Kames Motorsport Circuit in Cumnock and Knockhill Racing Circuit in Dunfermline.

More than 200 people from all over Scotland have since taken the chance to get behind the wheel of the charity’s race car, an Audi Quattro A3, known as DMS 1, and a new training vehicle named DMS 2.

They were funded by generous sponsors and members of the public.

Colin said: “The Audi is a fully modified race car able to accommodate anyone with a disability, be that mental or physical.

“Those who have a driving licence can drive the car round the track themselves and those who don’t enjoy passenger laps on the circuit.

“It’s a way for people to forget their troubles for a short time and simply enjoy something they may have thought they would never be able to do. It’s a great escape.

“The benefits of that are felt for minutes, hours and days later – it can be what helps get someone out of bed in the morning.”

Of course, none of it would be possible without the people who support the charity, be they sponsors, donors or volunteers.

Colin said: “We’re indebted to everyone who supports us as we wouldn’t be able to offer what we do without their support.

“We don’t receive any government funding – it’s solely funded by generous sponsors and supporters and the volunteers who help me on race days.”

Colin is now the only registered disabled level 2 motorsport coach in the UK and is putting both able bodied and disabled people through their paces.

And it’s all done under the charity’s banner with Colin earning not a penny.

Disability Motorsport Scotland’s track days are all free of charge, ensuring that everyone can access the service provided.

Colin said: “Track days are free and open to anyone in Scotland who has a mental or physical disability.

“We’ve had people coming down from Aberdeenshire, the islands, the central belt – all over Scotland.

“We only really advertise on our website and social media but we’ve discovered that most people hear about us by word of mouth. The last meet of the season was at Kames last month and this year we’ve had 83 people taking part.

“Over the three years, more than 200 have enjoyed one of our track days.

“Our next season begins in April 2020 and we’d be delighted to hear from anyone who’d like to come along and give it a go.”

As for Colin, there’s no stopping this powerhouse – despite using a power and manual wheelchair as, for him, a prosthetic is more hassle than it’s worth.

He celebrated his 30th anniversary with Julie last month, having also enjoyed a trip to Japan for their anniversary in the summer.

And on October 8, he visited the House of Lords where he was named in the Shaw Trust’s Power 100 List of 2019 – the most influential disabled people in the UK.

Colin added: “It was overwhelming and humbling at the same time.

“I met disabled people there who are the least disabled people I’ve ever met. They have all broken down so many barriers.”

To find out more about the charity, visit www.disabilitymotorsport.com.

Double hand transplant mum has given the charity her thumbs up!

In June 2013, Scottish mum Corinne Hutton nearly lost her life after suffering acute pneumonia and sepsis.

Surgeons were forced to amputate both her hands and her feet.

But Cor, as she is more commonly known, has not let that stop her.

She set up Finding Your Feet, a charity which supports families affected by amputation or limb difference and shows them there is life after limb loss.

Finding Your Feet has forged close links with Disability Motorsport Scotland and many of its clients have already enjoyed race days.

However, the timing was never quite right for Cor who, in January this year, had a double hand transplant after waiting more than five years.

She has spent the last ten months trying to get to grips with her new hands – training her brain to talk to them.

Cor (49), from Lochwinnoch in Renfrewshire, has also enjoyed many firsts – the most emotional one for her was being able to cuddle her son Rory (11) for the first time in years.

And Rory was with her last month when she took part in the last DMS race day of the 2019 season at Kames.

Cor said: “He was terrified when he saw me going faster and faster round the track but it was incredible – a great day.

“The first lap I did, I was only going 40mph but the second time round I hit 75mph.

“Colin does just over 80mph, so I was pleased with that!”

But it wasn’t Cor’s driving skills that impressed Colin most.

He said: “It was overwhelming seeing her giving me the thumbs up, just a few months after her double hand transplant. It really was monumental.”

For Cor, it was also a massive achievement.

She added: “I haven’t been able to give anyone a thumbs up in years and it has taken me months to learn something that other people take for granted.

“You have to train your brain to speak to your hands to do it.

“There have been a lot of firsts in the last few months – from picking up my napkin to zipping up my jacket. But the best thing was being able to hug Rory and hold his hand again.”