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Ben Fund Bonanza returns to Leicester
Redcar event cancelled
Redcar the venue for Bonanza 10 on 7th October
Gary and Garry ride again!
Monday 12th February 2018
by Mike Hunter
There will be a special on-track reunion at the Ben Fund Bonanza on March 18th at Peterborough, when Bradford team mates from the 1997 Elite League winning season Gary Havelock and Garry Stead will both get back on a bike and lap the track.
Garry Stead has ridden once since his 2007 accident, at Rusty Harrison's Testimonial, but for the 1992 World Champ Gary Havelock it is the first time he will have been back on a machine.

Confirming that it is his first outing, and that it is something which needs a bit of planning, Havvy explained "It absolutely will be. I'm not sure how easy it will be. I can't use my left arm at all. My shoulder still works but everything from the elbow downwards is kaput.

"We're going to adapt a bike so it will have a little lever under the handlebar, like a quad bike or a jet ski, which acts as a throttle when you press it with your thumb. We'll put that on the right hand side, and also the clutch lever which I will work with my fingers. We'll have to find some ingenious way of involving lots of elastic bands and duct tape to fasten my left hand to the handlebars.

"I don't think I'll be able to wave at the crowd! But it will be nice to get back on a bike, and good to do it for the Ben Fund which does so much for so many different riders. You can be very soon forgotten in speedway but one thing for sure is that the Ben Fund doesn't forget riders. Anything I can do for Paul and the Ben Fund including getting back on a bike, then I will do."

Gary has had to learn to live with the after-effects of his accident which are more severe than many people realise. "You may have read the big article a couple of winters ago, the big operation in hospital when I ended up nearly dying. I've taken a bit of a different perspective on things – I aint going back in Hospital again, getting cut open.

"I guess if, in about five years, they've invented some kind of control-by-the-mind bionic hand or arm, then I might think about it. The last operation I had was just to get some feeling into my elbow, but looking back it was just crazy to go through all that pain and suffering for a tiny improvement.

"I've taught myself how to do things one-handed. I can't do everything that I'd like to do, but just about everything that I need to do, I've managed to work out a way to do it with one arm.

"I've got a wife and family to think about more and more. I've tried all sorts of things to reduce the pain, I currently have a spinal cord stimulator which is two wires shoved up my spinal cord and connected to a little box implanted under my skin which sends electric current up the wires to try to disrupt the pain signals going to my brain. It's a fractional help, probably 10%, I have a brace thing to hold my shoulder up which probably saves another 5-10% and all the tablets I take (which is a lot) another 20%. So I probably reduce the pain to about 50%. But 50% is better than 100%.

"Nerve pain is the worst type of pain, I used to think breaking bones was the worst but bones heal. But it is what it is, I just have to get on with my day to day life as best I can. Not everyone understands the severity of my injuries and what I've been left with, and the pain. If I had what I had, with no pain it would be difficult enough but the pain multiplies it all.

"But I'm always a glass half full man and always have been, so I'm not going to sit and cry. There are a lot of people worse off than I am.”

Looking forward to the Peterborough event itself, he said "I'm pleased the Bonanza is in the centre of the country this year, Glasgow offered to do it last year, I was up there and it was a fantastic show but just in the wrong place for a Ben Fund meeting. Southern fans weren't going to travel. This year fans can come from all over and I hope they do, I can't blow their trumpet loudly enough, Paul does a fantastic job. I believe Paul and Ged are working together on this year's organisation and it was actually Ged who called and asked if I would do it.

"I agreed and Paul then called to check that I really wanted to do it and wasn't being railroaded into it! I said 'Paul you've known me long enough to know that I wouldn't be doing something I didn't want to do.'.

"Paul's always kept an eye out for me and made sure I'm keeping the wolf from the door. I'm sure he and Ged will pull off a fantastic Ben Fund event, and of course Peterborough has a place in my heart having had two really good seasons there."

For Garry Stead also, it is not an easy matter to ride a speedway bike. He said "I did a few laps at Rusty Harrison's Testimonial. As long as I've got the right people behind me to make sure I'm on the bike properly.

"Once I'm away it needs to be right, I won't know where my legs are. It is quite tricky to start with just to make sure everything's right. It doesn't need to be too tight on my body as well. It just takes time to do things.

"I still have kevlars, I have the actual colours I finished with, I've got a suit that I never used, that goes back to 2005."

Garry still gets around and attends plenty of speedway. He added "I'm feeling fine, the winter's been hard and people have had bad health, colds etc, so I've been trying to dodge that for quite a while.

"I don't have any trips planned at the moment. Every year I go away in August, and usually I go away on the anniversary of my accident which was May 18th. We usually go away for about two weeks but it's not looking like we are going to do that this year. It's more expensive since Brexit.

"We'll probably just do the August trip, about a month going to different destinations. It's something that I look forward to. Last year I met some British supporters on a trip in Poland.

"I still like to go to Sheffield and Belle Vue but I must admit over the last two or three years it has got less. The enthusiasm's there but there's a feeling that you are not part of it any more. There are also more Health and Safety rules. It's a hard thing to swallow after being on the racing side of the fence.

"I gave everything to speedway, I knew what potentially could happen and unfortunately it did. You have to work with the cards you are dealt. I personally feel a little bit disappointed with British Speedway. Once you have been part of a club I think it should be possible to go back with a yearly pass. Lots of people love to see old riders.

"The Ben Fund Bonanza is a very very worthwhile event, people put a lot of money in. It's invaluable to the injured riders."

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