Almost two years after losing his leg in a horrific motorcycle accident, Cwmbran father-of-one Mike Jones now holds four European Disabled Open golf titles. NIALL GRIFFITHS spoke to him.

I WAS born in Panteg Hospital in Pontypool in 1965. My parents lived in Trinant, just above Crumlin.

When I was two years old my father got a job at Girling in Cwmbran and we moved into the newly-built housing estate in Southfield.

There I met one of my longest, oldest friends in Dave Phillips, who is a current Paralympic archer.

We competed a lot through our school lives – in the football and rugby team – and I’m sure that made us both strong competitors.

After Brookfield Primary we went on to Llantarnam where there was a very strong rugby ethos.

I played for local football teams until I was 16 when I went to Girling myself to do an electrical apprenticeship from 1982 to 1986. From 20 onwards I began working there full time.

I got my first motorbike when I was 19 and had a bit of nasty crash on that. I wasn’t badly hurt but it had been my fault. It made me realise that I needed to be a bit calmer when you’re riding these things, you have to treat bikes with respect.

I met my wife, Beth, when I was 22 so we’ve been together a long time. We have a son, Joshua, who works in a nursery in Raglan, and he is married to Hannah, a primary school teacher in Newport. So that side of things is great.

Beth has been a massive support in everything – she made me grow up, in a way, as I was always a bit childish. I think she’d still say that I still am.

In my mid to late 20s me and my best mate Gary Derraven started playing golf together at Llanyrafon. We hit a couple of shots and managed to hit the ball half-tidy and the bug bit us big time.

We joined Woodlake Golf and Country Club the year it opened in 1993 and never looked back on the golf front.

I was always switched on mentally to push myself to get as good as I possibly could in everything I did, I think that’s just inherent in me.

Before I was 30 I got to down to a two handicap, playing first-team and Welsh Championship golf – it was just incredible, I had found a sport that I truly loved and I wished that I’d played it when I was a bit younger.

For my 40th, my wife got me back into bike lessons so I could start riding again.

She used to come on the bike with me as well and we had some great times together.

On Hallowe’en in 2015, I was on my way to work on nights, on a bike I’d only had six months.

I was going down Llantarnam Road and what happened next, and the next four days, I can’t remember.

By all accounts I’d been hit from the side by someone pulling out at a slow speed but the impact was enough to crush my leg below the knee.

Both bones in my leg had broken and my thigh bone had been pushed through the back of my pelvis, breaking that as well.

It was a pretty nasty accident and I nearly died at the scene having lost a lot of blood. I had a blood transfusion there and later on at the Royal Gwent Hospital.

A day later they took me to Morriston Hospital in Swansea, where they decided that they couldn’t save my leg so they amputated.

I worked really hard in hospital to get better, I wouldn’t allow myself to become negative.

I saw guys around me struggling with the mental pressure of losing a limb and I though “right, I can’t let myself go down that route, I need to stay positive”.

That really helped me. I got out of hospital in five weeks and off morphine in three weeks.

It made me a stronger person when I realised that I could do these things. A switch turned on inside me after that accident and I’m now much more positive.

As soon as I had my prosthetic leg I was practicing practising with the parallel bars before I could walk and practising my golf swing. The physio and my wife had a bit of a laugh over that.

After I left I met Mike Overton from the Welsh Disabled Golf Association at a driving range.

It was difficult and physically painful but Mike saw me and said I could possibly compete.

In March 2016 I played in my first event and it was dreadful.

I was tired and in pain but the attitude of those around me was fantastic.

I practised as much as I could and in July I won the Welsh Disabled Open through the European Disabled Golf Association (EDGA).

After that I got invited up to Scotland for the Scottish Disabled Open in August and won that.

On the way back from that I had a hospital appointment and found that my hip was broken and that I’d need a full replacement.

I had won those tournaments with a broken hip.

Between then and November was a difficult and dark time for me because I’d found something that made me feel normal again but I was now stuck back in a wheelchair. It made me realise how much I missed my mobility and how hard I was prepared to work to do what I wanted to do.

Staying positive and not being negative were pushed to their absolute limit in those three months. I think I would have slipped into depression if I hadn’t worked hard and kept telling myself that I had to get out of this.

Once I had the operation there was no holding me back. In January I was mobile, using my leg and learning to walk.

I was stronger with my golf and my improvement was exponential from there.

In February I won the Spanish Disabled Open and the Italian Open three months later.

Before Italy I had been competing in EDGA’s Stableford ranking section, which is for those with a higher handicap.

Italy was my first competition in the higher net ranking and I’m now working on getting my placing higher in that.

Before that I had been ranked eighth in Europe and the highest-ranked British player in the Stableford system.

Last month I retained my Welsh title again at the Vale and on August 21 I’m off to St Andrew’s to try and hold my Scottish title.

In September I’m playing at a French friend’s open before playing in the 10th anniversary of the Spanish Disabled Open.

And in November I’ll be flying to Portugal for EDGA’s flagship event.

Next year it’s a full itinerary again. It really is non-stop.

Defending titles of any kind would have been a pipe dream for me in hospital.

During those dark times, if you had told me that I would be playing across Europe and winning anything I would’ve said ‘that’s not going to happen, those things don’t happen to me’.

It’s then that you realise that it’s not super special people that do these things – it’s just ordinary people.

I want to get that point across to people, that everybody’s special in their own way and that everyone has that switch inside.

If you can find that switch then people start to believe themselves and they can achieve anything.

I don’t like negative people but that doesn’t mean I’ll ignore them or push them away.

“I’ll try and turn them around to become more positive.

That is what I take into my role as inclusivity ambassador for Golf Development Wales.

The Golf Union of Wales had approached me in March this year to help with the development of the game and introducing it to people of all ages.

I’ve worked with young kids and teenagers with disabilities and older gentlemen who have suffered strokes and are lacking a bit of confidence.

I get people into golf so they can ascertain the benefits, both mental and physical, that they could get from taking it on.

They absolutely love it – the work that Golf Development Wales does is just incredible.

Disabled golf is currently not a Paralympic sport but it is EDGA’s goal to make it so.

Hopefully, even if I can’t make that because of my age, I could inspire a younger person to realise what’s out there and make them say: “I could do that”.

That is my mission.