Generosity of strangers brings John Telfer closer to coming home

Friends of a cyclist left paralysed and stranded in a Spanish hospital are trying to raise €25,000 to bring him home to the UK.

Former prison officer and lecturer in engineering, John Telfer, 57, from Corbridge, Northumberland, had an accident on a rural road, landing on his neck.

His phrenic nerve was paralysed leaving him unable to breathe unaided.

The tragic accident has ruined his plans to enjoy retirement visiting the Costa Blanca with his wife Dawn.

John’s friend Jo Pugh told the Chronicle Live: “He had the accident on a rural road. The guy in front of him hit a raised tree root and fell in front of him, John flew 150m down the road, landing on his neck.

“It’s absolutely devastating.”

Friends have set up a crowdfunding page in order to have John repatriated to a specialist spinal unit in Edinburgh, near to where his children live.

The money is desperately needed, because John and Dawn discovered their travel insurance had expired just two days before the accident.

Generous well-wishers have already donated nearly 22,000 Euros, almost enough to pay for a private air ambulance, with a doctor present at all times.

Jo said: “It’s been quite amazing. The whole community has come together and has done a fantastic job in literally five days - I didn’t expect it, it just shows the support that John’s got.”

The campaign page reads:

On Thursday the 4th of May, one day before he was due to return to Scotland to visit family, John and a few friends went for a cycle on the road to Pedreguer from Alcalali. A fellow cyclist unfortunately hit a raised tree root in the road surface causing him to fall off into John’s path.

John was unable to avoid him and was thrown from his bike causing him to go over the handlebars and landing in such a way which caused his neck to be broken in two cervical areas. After being stabilised at the roadside he was transferred to Denia local hospital and was not expected to survive the end of the day. Notwithstanding his character and strength, John was able to fight his battle for life which continues to this day.

Due to the severity of the spinal injury which has resulted in paralysis from the neck down, he was transferred to the La Ribera hospital in Alzira to undergo further life-saving treatment.

 John still remains in critical condition within the intensive care unit on a variety of life support machines​ requiring 24 hour care. The injury is compounded by inability to communicate due to a tracheotomy removing vocal ability, the paralysis and the language barriers. The medical team at this stage are unable to give any clear indication of John’s future prognosis.

Whilst delighted with the specialist care John has received at La Ribera, the whole family are keen to return him to Scotland to a specialist spinal unit to begin any form of future stabilisation and recovery, both mentally and physically with all close family there to support.

John’s fundraising page can be found here.


After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.