TWO sweet factory employees who suffered brain injuries when a co-worker drove into them and four others have spoken of how they are lucky to be alive.

The horrifying attack unfolded back in December 2019 when Aaron Hayward and Matthew Cawthra left a work Christmas party in Cleckheaton shortly after an altercation between two of their colleagues.

They were walking along Bradford Road in the town with workmates when they were deliberately mowed down by an Audi. 

Andrew Wrigglesworth, from Birstall, was behind the wheel and was jailed for 30 years after being convicted of six counts of attempted murder.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Andrew Wrigglesworth, the damage to red Audi after he deliberately drove into six of his colleagues, and police at the scene of the incident in CleckheatonAndrew Wrigglesworth, the damage to red Audi after he deliberately drove into six of his colleagues, and police at the scene of the incident in Cleckheaton

Matthew and Aaron were taken to hospital where they were found to have a catalogue of horrendous injuries, including brain damage.

The pair instructed expert serious injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help them access specialist care and therapies.

'A truly dreadful incident'

Solicitor David King, from Irwin Mitchell, said: “This was a truly dreadful incident where Aaron and Matthew both sustained serious injuries, and it’s only through good fortune that nobody was killed.

Matthew and Aaron have spoken out for the first time as part of Action For Brain Injury Week.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Matthew and AaronMatthew and Aaron

Matthew, 45, from Cleckheaton, was ventilated and put in an induced coma after being hit.

He had a severe brain injury, as well as multiple skull fractures, a spinal fracture, cuts, bleeding and soft tissue injuries. 

He had to undergo surgery on Christmas Eve, before eventually returning home in June 2020.

'I struggled to accept it'

Matthew has suffered a great deal since then, including neck pain, headaches, speech and memory impairment, difficulty swallowing and anxiety.

“I can recall setting off to the Christmas party, but the next thing I remember is coming round in hospital and people telling me what had happened,” he said.

“They said I had been run over deliberately by a guy I knew from work, but I struggled to accept it at first. 

“The main things that affect me are my memory and the fatigue, which is why I’ve had to reduce my hours at work.

“Despite this, I feel like I’ve come so far since what happened. 

“Thankfully, I have a good family and friends, and we tend to have a laugh about me forgetting things or falling asleep during the football. 

“I know I’m lucky to be alive, and I’m so grateful for all the support and rehabilitation I’ve had. I want others to know that there is help available.”

'How could he do such a terrible thing?'

Aaron, 29, from Dewsbury, was diagnosed with a brain injury as well as a fractured spine, skull and facial fractures, plus cuts and bruising.  He also suffered a bruised lung, nerve damage and broken teeth.

He said: “I remember the incident at the party where some of the lads had a falling out.

“We decided to leave and go somewhere different. The last thing I remember is walking down the road. The next thing I remember is being in hospital.

“My mum and my sister came to visit me the next day, but I don’t remember that. I was still confused and lightheaded at that time.

“To then find out it was one of our workmates that hit us was horrific and incredibly difficult to believe.  It left me with so many questions as to how he could do such a terrible thing and cause so much hurt, particularly to people he knew and worked with every day.

Aaron added: “Before the incident, I enjoyed playing sports and gaming. I haven’t gone back to rugby or football, as I am worried about getting knocks to my head or neck and about the social side of it.

“I am still into gaming, but I can’t do it as much due to pain and tiredness.  I even had to drop some hours at work for a while as I was finding the fatigue was too much to bear at times.

“Thankfully, I’ve had such great support from everyone and I’m so lucky to be alive.  I always said I was determined not let my injuries set me back in life, and my promotion at work is a sign of what I’m capable of achieving despite what I’ve been through.”

Action for Brain Injury Week runs until May 22 and is supported by the charity Headway

This year’s campaign is called The Hidden Me, and aims to raise awareness of often misunderstood symptoms of brain injury.