A MIRACLE man who will take part in the Stafford Half Marathon after previously believing he might never run again says it is all thanks to his dog.
Neal Evans, a former fire fighter and athlete, has been overwhelmed by the support from the public since announcing he would run the half marathon on March 17 - but says his efforts are all down to dog Willow.
Mr Evans was left in a coma for four days and temporarily paralysed down one leg after falling from a roof at his Highfield Grove home almost five years ago. The dad-of-three told the Newsletter that he wanted to get back to running - but as he had to learn to walk again it seemed a distant dream.
But undeterred Mr Evans, 49, took advice from his triathlete friend Bert Cunnliff, who showed him foot positioning for running.
The family also took in a rescue dog, called Willow, and he began running on Cannock Chase with her. It helped his fitness, running and confidence as he started meeting up with other dog walkers.
Mr Evans, who will raise money for brain charity Headway, said: “When you are out walking with your dog you inevitably meet fellow pet owners and conversations are virtually unavoidable. I have had to become more sociable and I feel reborn.
“I have also been reunited with the fire service community.
Due to my lack of self-confidence, I had shunned any fireservice connections but a good friend got me to go out with the group of firefighters, ex and current, who walk their dogs on The Chase at a weekend.
“I am now up to over an hour running with Willow and training is going really well, but March 17 is coming scarily quickly.
"I will be absolutely amazed and delighted if I finish in two hours, despite my personal best being 76 minutes set in the 1980s when I competed for Cannock and Stafford and was a County and National League standard athelete.”