Ren Gallet

Ren is a below knee amputee. He lost a limb as a result of a trauma accident. Despite losing his leg, he was determined to live life to the full. This is Ren’s remarkable story.

Ren is a below knee amputee. He lost a limb as a result of a trauma accident. Despite losing his leg, he was determined to live life to the fullest. This is Ren’s remarkable story.

I like the speed, the agility, for an amputee it is one the biggest challenges that anybody can make. Every time I get on the skates, I learn something new, something different.

Well I was sixteen years old, and a friend said “Can you take me down to the bike shop to get some spare parts?”. It was a nice sunny afternoon and a car came on the outside of me and pushed me into a parked car.

At first, I just thought I’d got away with a broken leg. When I asked if I could look at the leg before they have a look (it was covered in plaster), they took me into theatre and cut the plaster off. The surgeon virtually picked it up by the toe and (because the bone hadn’t mended and I didn't have any feeling in the leg), the leg collapsed. He just shook it and said “See, you don't want that” and I was quite shocked and just said “Well probably not”.

In the 60s there was no rehabilitation. They virtually amputated the leg, sent me home with crutches, taught me how to bandage the limb to protect the wound and that was within a week. Fortunately, I had a close-knit family and they supported me all the way.

Family support is hugely important because I think in the early stages of limb loss you have to put up with depression and mobility fears and all these sorts of fears, and with family supporting you and around you all the time encouraging you, makes a huge difference.

When I joined, I was also paying inline hockey on rollerblades and I was still doing that on an old wooden leg. Plus I’d had horses for a number of years I’d ridden horses, I’d ridden bikes, I was skiing and so all these events but at no time did anybody say to me you can do this or you can do that with prosthetics and introduce me to all these new techniques and new models.

when I was in my 50s I saw a job advertised for a prosthetic technician and I was still wearing a wooden leg at the time, and as one technician said to me he said “It's almost like letting you loose in a lolly shop isn't it?”.  I said “Yeah you’re probably right too!”.

I discovered a lot more being a technician and managed to meet a lot of different people, amputees and get involved in sports with amputees.

I think with amputees getting involved in sports and how important it is in rehabilitation, not just a social aspect, but it gives them a challenge for themselves and not only just as a mental challenge to challenge our ability, but it's also that physical side of regaining control of their body.

I was very concerned because any new amputee without that knowledge would have no idea how far they can go.

Years ago, with a wooden leg the dynamics of the limb were just virtually to get you from A to B. That was solely what their purpose was for, whereas now they’re more dynamic and the quality of life it gives you, it allows you to be more mobile, to walk longer distances and not to be so tiring on you on the rest of your body.

Looking back, I don't think I would have done anything different. I probably would have taken up ice hockey a bit sooner when I was younger, because I'm pretty sure my body would have accepted it a lot better than it does now.