Former world martial arts champion Dave Mears, of Stamford, thanks the NHS and taekwondo for recovering from a lost leg

A former world taekwondo champion who “went through hell” after losing a leg to a serious infection is eager to start his life again.

Dave Mears has been beset by a series of life-changing setbacks over the past 18 months.

Having established himself as a professional photographer and bar owner in Thailand, he was forced to return home to Stamford in April last year when Covid shut down his business.

Dave gets used to life with his state-of-the-art weight-activated hydraulic knee system

A year later, he contracted an infection in his left leg and spent 10 weeks in the hospital where he underwent four major operations.

However, Dave, from Stamford, is finally starting to look to the future.

“I’ve been through hell, but eventually I can see a great bright light at the end of a very long dark tunnel,” Dave said.

Dave Mears had his leg amputated below the knee following a serious infection
Dave Mears had his leg amputated below the knee following a serious infection

“Covid had already ended my Thai dream.

“It shut down my business there and I was forced to leave the country and come home before any of this happened.”

After being moved to temporary accommodation in Grantham after leaving hospital, Dave, 58, is now set to move into a new home after South Kesteven District Council found him a bungalow in Bourne .

Dave has held British, European and World titles in <a class=taekwondo” data-root=”/_media/img/” data-path=”YRSLC7UDUE30UTP2MNWC.jpg” data-ar=”1.22″/>
Dave has held British, European and World titles in taekwondo

Rehabilitation is progressing much sooner than expected and he is also working with an author to write his life story, tentatively titled “I’m Still Standing,” after Elton John’s success.

“It’s surprising how things fit together.” he said.

“The advice was great and helped me get my life back on track by finding this home.

Dave's taekwondo club had 150 members and was the largest in the Stamford area
Dave’s taekwondo club had 150 members and was the largest in the Stamford area

“When we got the viewing, I was like a kid at Christmas.

“I will only be eight miles from my sister and close to my best friend in Ryhall.

“I can’t wait to start my life over there again.”

Dave is also grateful to his friends and family who have put together an ongoing fundraising campaign.

The profits enabled her to purchase a motorized wheelchair and scooter, as well as furniture for her new home.

“I am fortunate to have a good sister and friends who will help me take care of myself,” he added.

In his only second month of physiotherapy and rehabilitation at Peterborough City Hospital Rehabilitation Center, Dave’s pace of progress surprised specialists.

“The prosthetic leg is a wonderful piece of equipment,” he explained.

“I am now allowed to practice walking at home with a rollator.

“But they told me not to run before I can walk.”

We are far from life five months ago after Dave was admitted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital on April 10.

“I was in a state of hell,” he said.

“I had two surgeries in Peterborough and had this horrible fever. I went from 85 kg to 66 kg.”

Doctors were unable to save the knee joint as they had hoped, so more operations followed to remove the leg above the knee.

“I don’t think people realize how difficult it is to use an artificial leg without a knee,” he added.

“But the NHS was absolutely fantastic.

“The frontline staff – doctors, nurses, specialists – are world class in my opinion.”

Dave held British, European and world titles in taekwondo and opened the popular Stamford YMCA Club in 1985 before starting a new life in Thailand which he lived for 21 years.

He believes his experience in sports was the key to his successful rehabilitation, both physically and mentally.

The sport also rallied around one of theirs, making Dave the official press secretary of the Global Taekwondo UK Association.

“My martial arts allowed me to overcome this,” he said.

“I have a natural sense of balance which has really helped me with my rehabilitation, and it has also given me the mental strength to keep fighting.

“I’m not giving up – I was world champion for a reason.

“I had a remarkable life until this happened, but I’m not going to let this stop me.”

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