Housing association resident sets sail against the odds


When John Solomon’s car collided with a lorry in Germany, his doctors told him that he was unlikely to be able to drive or walk again. Now the Hanover Housing Association resident in Cornwall is venturing into the world of sailing.


Whilst setting up his own business in Germany, the former computer programmer and civil servant had a near fatal car crash when his car was hit by a semi-trailer which had jack-knifed in the opposite direction. That left John in a coma for seven weeks, sustaining partial brain damage and 18 fractures in various parts of his body.


Despite being told by doctors that he would never drive again, fitness fanatic John spent a year and a half in rehabilitation to improve his mobility and help get back his independence. Six years later he’d regained his driving licence and has been driving mobility cars ever since. That tenacity has kept him out of a wheelchair for over 20 years and he is now embarking on his latest sailing adventure.


John said: “It’s really all thanks to one of my sons. One day Christopher was struggling to push me along in a wheelchair and from that day onwards I made an effort to strengthen my limbs and have been using crutches ever since.”


Two years ago 62-year-old John traded in his house in Watford for the sea views of Hanover Court in Penzance. Inspired by the ocean views he decided to learn how to sail. To help him achieve his ambition, Estate Manager Pauline Robinson put John in contact with Mylor Sailability via Age UK and within a couple of months he had obtained his Royal Yachting Association (RYA) level one and two qualifications.


John is now taking part in competitive yacht racing at Mylor Sailing School. After coming last in their first race, the three-man team has won their last three races against able-bodied sailors. He says: “My philosophy is to live life without limits. Sailing is a fantastic sport which all started thanks to the stunning views from my Hanover property.”


Tracy Boyne from Mylor Sailing School said: “John has rehabilitated himself with his sailing and has also made strong friendships with other participants. Starting as a beginner he has gone from strength to strength and it became part of his life very quickly.”


When he is not sailing John enjoys socializing and trying out new things as a member of Cornwall’s Active Plus initiative. He has also inspired fellow Hanover residents after he joined them for a useful life skills course which included sessions on fire-safety, personal safety, first-aid training and IT awareness.


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