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Speedway star Sam returns to hero's welcome

PUBLISHED: 15:23 12 August 2019 | UPDATED: 16:10 12 August 2019

Sam Norris walks out on the track at Mildenhall Fen Tigers with dad Chris, left and mum Claire. Picture: CAROL DOWNIE

Sam Norris walks out on the track at Mildenhall Fen Tigers with dad Chris, left and mum Claire. Picture: CAROL DOWNIE

CAROL DOWNIE

Teenage speedway rider Sam Norris has made an emotional return to Mildenhall Fens Tigers just weeks after being seriously injured in a crash.

Speedway rider Sam Norris in action at the British Youth Championships in Glasgow Picture: TAYLOR LANNINGSpeedway rider Sam Norris in action at the British Youth Championships in Glasgow Picture: TAYLOR LANNING

Sam, aged 15, was given a standing ovation by fans in a visit at the weekend during their fixture against Isle of Wight Islanders in the Speedway Great Britain National League on Sunday August 11.

Although in a wheelchair as he recovers from serious brain injuries, he was able to stand and walk out with his parents Chris and Claire on to the track at Mildenhall stadium in West Row and wave to supporters.

Claire said: "It was amazing, it was something Sam wanted to do as soon as he could because he was missing the smell of the bikes.

"It was also for us to say thank you to everyone at the club and to the fans for being so supportive - for Sam it felt like he was going home."

Sam Norris with Mildenhall Fen Tigers promoter Kevin Jolly at Sunday's meet Picture: CAROL DOWNIESam Norris with Mildenhall Fen Tigers promoter Kevin Jolly at Sunday's meet Picture: CAROL DOWNIE

Tigers co-owner Phil Kirk said Sam's visit had been an emotional moment for everyone at the club.

"The progress he has made has been miraculous," he said.

"Considering how he was just six weeks ago after the crash I would never have dreamed he would look as well as he did.

"He was on great form, he was chatting to the riders and looked really well.

Mildenhall Fens Tigers rider Sam Norris Picture: TAYLOR LANNINGMildenhall Fens Tigers rider Sam Norris Picture: TAYLOR LANNING

"Of course, he still has a long way to go but he is totally focused on his recovery."

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Tigers won the meeting 50-40 but at a cost as their captain Danny Ayres suffered a broken leg in a collision in the opening heat.

Sam, from Cambridgeshire, suffered serious head injuries as he rode his 250cc bike in the British Youth Championships in Glasgow on June 16.

He was treated at the paediatric intensive care unit in Glasgow before being transferred to Addenbrooke's hospital in Cambridge.

Sam is now being cared for at Tadworth children's rehabilitation centre in Surrey, where he stays in the week and comes home at weekends.

Claire said: "He has a bit of post traumatic amnesia but otherwise his progress has been amazing.

"He can speak, talk, smell, walk and talk - as with all head injuries it's still going to be a waiting game, but he is a walking miracle."

Claire said long-term Sam aims to be an advocate for the Children's Trust charity, which helps young people with acquired brain injuries.

A fundraising page set up in the wake of the accident to help assist his family with travel and hotel costs has now raised more than £9,000, three times its original £3,000 target.

The young rider's family has said the funds will also be used to buy special equipment he may need, while any surplus funds will be donated to charities including the Speedway Benevolent Fund and Glasgow Paediatric Intensive Care.

Sam is a rising star in British speedway, having raced at venues across the country representing various clubs including the Reading Racers.

In May he finished second in the first round of the British Youth Championships at Foxhall Stadium in Ipswich.

More recently, Sam had completed his work experience with a motorbike dealership in Braintree, while continuing to work with his father Chris in renovating classic fighter jets.

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