Whitby teenager Dale Milne is finally looking forward to a barbecue for his 16th birthday celebrations.
Last year, plans for a family birthday get together were put dramatically on hold when Dale, then 14, was left paralysed after an accident while swimming in the sea on Whitby beach.
He spent the rest of that year in James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough and is still waiting to move back into the family home in St Peter’s Court while building works to create him a first floor bedroom have been finished.
But in the meantime, parents Ian and Louise and brother Jordan (14), sister Kelsey (8), family and friends are hoping to have a birthday barbecue and to spend some quality time together as they are splitting their time between home and the temporary accommodation where Dale is staying at Harrowing Court.
Dale said: “Hopefully we will be home and all I want for my birthday is a barbecue.”
This weekend will see the first anniversary since the tragic accident which changed their lives forever but the family won’t be giving it a second thought.
While Dale said “I don’t care that it is a year”, dad Ian added: “It is not something we have said or mentioned. Some people might talk about things like that and things have happened to friends who have thought ‘what if’.
“But it has happened, we have got to move on and carry on. Life is not all about that – enjoy yourselves.”
Despite having missed half a year of schooling Dale is also remarkably sitting his GCSEs with his Whitby Community College classmates – even if he is still as reluctant to go to school as he was before.
He is sitting them in science, maths, English, IT and workskills and plans to do A-Level chemistry and biology at Whitby Community College sixth form next term.
Dale joked: “It feels just as boring. I don’t do exactly the same.
“I only do maths, science, English and IT and work skills because there was nothing much else that I could do. Most of the classrooms are very difficult to access but with these it was mainly catch up.”
Ian added: “It was a struggle to get him out of hospital.
“We were worried whether he was in an environment he felt comfortable and there was a fear of leaving hospital.
“It was a comfort zone and everybody was there to look after him.
“He has built it up and he can go to the shops.
“Dale has always been a person that says ‘I can’t’ but then we get these good reports and I think ‘Dale, you said you were no good’.
“Any parent would say ‘son, do your best’ and we couldn’t ask any more of him. What he has learned and picked up has been fantastic.”