Ian Gravell is the first to admit he’s had a fantastic life.
The co-owner of Gravells car dealership has a strong passion for music and motorbikes. These hobbies have brought Gravell many tales over the years.
But a tragic, nearly fatal accident in his 20s is only a small part of the story that shaped him into the person he is today.
The Kidwelly native was 26 years old when he was involved in a car crash that left him with several broken ribs, a fractured skull, 26 fractures in his legs, and an inability to walk properly.
Confined to a wheelchair and with a young family to raise, Gravell made the conscious decision not to let this tragedy and his disability define him.
“I had little kids,” said Gravell. “What type of example are you going to show these little kids that say, ‘What’s your dad do? Oh, he does nothing since he’s given up on life since he had a car crash.’ I didn’t want to be that, and I wanted to have as much fun as I could.”
Though years of exercise and physical therapy helped Gravell regain seventy per cent of the use of his legs, he attributes much of his successful recovery to Bruce Springsteen and his famous song “Dancing in the Dark.”
He says he remembers taking his first shaky steps to the 1984 hit and now fondly calls it his “best friend.”
“I cannot describe what that song means to me,” said Gravell. “I learned to walk to Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing in the Dark’ which is the greatest thing I can tell you today.”
Armed with a new lease on life, Gravell put much energy into running his thriving business and bringing up his children and grandchildren. In his 30s, he renewed a life-long obsession with motorcycles. To mark his 50th birthday, Gravell rode the 2400-mile journey across US Route 66, a highway infamously nicknamed the Main Street of America.
“If you’re a motorcyclist, what else is there to do?” he joked. “That trip was easily the best experience of my adult life, except learning to walk again.”
Unfortunately, the pandemic hit shortly after Gravell’s celebratory tour of America. He found himself, like many others, struggling with ways to fill the time during the UK’s various lockdowns.
It was then that Gravell decided to write a book about his life’s journey. His goal was to not only share his story but to also highlight the physical and mental difficulties of living with a disability.
“If someone is in a wheelchair and they are desperate to try to get out, I’m hoping this book will help,” said Gravell. “If they’ve got issues in their head from being in an accident, I’m hoping this book will help them.”
The book, titled Loose Gravel: Broken Bones Broken Dreams Made Good on a Broken Road is set to launch on September 24th. Gravell regularly posts updates on his blog, LooseGravell.co.uk where you can find more information.