It’s a cold morning in March 2011. Usually, at this time of year, Andy Ibbot, the 46-year-old director of the UK branch of the California Superbike School, would be out on the Tarmac, piloting one of the school’s fleet of bright-blue Yamaha R6s through the twists and turns of the Silverstone race circuit.
Instead, he lay in one of the 12 hospital beds of Northampton General Hospital’s Hyper Acute Stroke Ward. Ibbott’s face, normally Sun-browned and creased into a half-smile, was now blanched in the same off-white as the walls around him. It had been 72 hours since a routine neck operation had triggered a massive stroke, starving the blood supply from Ibbott’s left carotid artery to his brain. Seventy-two hours that his doctors had not expected him to survive.
In starving his cells of oxygen, the stroke had caused extensive damage to the neurons in the brain’s left hemisphere, resulting in paralysis all down the right-hand side of his body.