A BOLTON man left paralysed after he was shot in the head at point-blank range as a boy 18 years ago has won his first competitive medal as a cyclist.

Danny Walmsley was just 14 when he was shot with an air gun by his friend while camping in Kearsley in a prank that went wrong.

Then a pupil of Withins School — now St Catherine’s Academy — Danny spent weeks in hospital fighting for his life and was eventually well enough to leave hospital.

But his rehabilitation continues today.

Partially paralysed down his right side, he went back to school where he had been a keen rugby league player with aspirations eventually to be a professional. According to doctors who are still treating Danny, now aged 32, most of the pellet that was lodged in his brain is still there.

Any sporting activity after the accident proved to be impossible and he found his memory was badly affected. He left school with no qualifications and worked as a labourer.

Danny, of Blenheim Road, Breightmet, has now rebuilt his life supported by his girlfriend Donna Davidson, aged 33, and — after taking up cycling four years ago — was part of the three-man Lancashire Road Club squad which won the team event in The Rake Hill Climb in Ramsbottom.

He finished the gruelling climb up the 947- yard course — which at one point has gradient of one in four — in 3mins 16.9seconds, sandwiched by his team-mates John Bamford (3mins 3.1secs) and Steve Horrocks (3mins 18.3secs).

Danny, who is now studying sports science at the Keighley campus of Leeds University and commutes to his college digs from Bolton on his bike, could not believe he had been part of the winning team.

“I have been working hard at cycling,” he said, “but I never thought we would win something. I am absolutely buzzing.

“Since my accident, I have never felt able to take part in sporting activities, although before it happened I loved sport. It is an amazing feeling, something I did not believe I would ever experience.

“I never recovered completely from what happened, but I have tried to make the best of my life.

My rehabilitation goes on.”

Danny is now planning a cycle ride from Lands End to John O’Groats to raise money for the Sands UK charity, which supports families affected by baby deaths during pregnancy, after Donna lost babies in pregnancy.