A father-of-four who miraculously survived a motorway horror smash a year ago was given the red carpet treatment at Burnley Football Club’s end-of-season thriller on Sunday.
Sixty-three-year-old Frank Clayton and his wife Agnes enjoyed a VIP day out at Turf Moor during the club’s Premier League match against Tottenham which Burnley came from 2-0 down to win 4-2.
The treat, which included a pre-match meal and seats in the ground’s VIP area, was organised by the club’s public relations manager and Frank’s former work colleague, Darren Bentley, after he read of his pal’s amazing recovery in the Observer.
Despite Frank’s incredible bravery and resilience after he was left fighting for life following the horrific pile-up on the M6 in April 2009, he’s still battling long-lasting injuries. So Sunday’s treat, the football fanatic told us, was a real lift.
“We enjoyed it very much, both the meal and the occasion, and I’d like to say a big thank you to Darren,” said Frank, of Broad Oak Road, Accrington, who sits on the committee of the Vodkat North West Counties football league.
“It was certainly a game of two halves, a thoroughly enjoyable day out. I went there as a neutral but I’m a football man through and through, particularly non-league football.”
Frank’s road to recovery is still a long and winding one.
He still uses a crutches and sometimes a wheelchair to get around and is waiting to have a hip replacement after losing a large section of bone in his leg.
Following the 50mph crash, in which an overloaded car transporter smashed into a line of stationary traffic, Frank had to undergo full facial reconstruction, had his tongue sewn back on and numerous operations on internal injuries.
But despite his terrifying experience he’s keen to get behind the wheel again and has already had a test drive.
“I’m looking forward to trying to drive again,” he said.
“They have a driving track at Wrightington Hospital in Wigan and I’ve been round a couple of times with an instructor. I’ll have to drive an automatic because of my injuries and have a few driving lessons. We’ll see what happens when I’ve had a my hip replacement but I’m certainly not frightened of driving again.”