By Debbie James

A farmer’s son who lost the use of his legs after plunging from the top of a ladder has refused to let disability prevent him carving out a career as an agricultural contractor.

Keith Smith was paralysed when he hit the ground head-first after falling 26 feet while helping to build a new silage clamp in icy conditions near his home at Trecastle.

The self-confessed workaholic approached this life-changing event in the only way he knew how, by continuing to work in the industry he was born into.

Last year he invested in a wheelchair lift to allow him to get into his tractor without assistance and he has now taken delivery of a four-furrow Pottinger reversible plough from Davies Implements Ltd at Trevaughan, Carmarthen.

Keith says it has opened up a new chapter in his life, allowing him to be financially independent and to continue working in the industry he has been involved in throughout his life.

“I have been able to continue doing something I am good at, I used to plough a lot before I had the accident,’’ says 53-year-old Keith.

One of the features he likes most about his new plough is its spring-loaded discs which, combined with the hydraulic auto-reset function of the mouldboards, make it possible for him to plough in stony conditions without having to leave the cab to replace broken shearbolts.

Another feature Keith specified was the plough’s hydraulically adjustable depth wheel as this allows him to make depth adjustment from the cab.

Heulwen Davies, of Davies Implements Ltd, described Keith as “truly inspirational’’.

“Keith rang me one morning, looking for information and pricing on Pottinger’s auto reset Servo25 Nova plough. Shortly afterwards, he arrived on our yard, in his car, accompanied by his dog. I was astounded by his independence and determination to overcome the barriers he is confronted with – he is truly inspirational.”

Next on Keith’s wishlist are a grass mower and a silage baler.

His services are in high demand.

“A farmer recently hired me to plough 17 acres and no sooner had I finished and he saw the job I had done he asked me to plough another eight acres,’’ says Keith.

He is a modest man but when it comes to his ploughing technique he is happy to rate his performance as a ‘9 out of 10’.

“I am known for my straight lines and getting the furrows over tidy,’’ he confides.

Keith’s work gives his life purpose. “I need something to get me out of bed, I used to spend a lot of time in bed before I bought the machines.

“I now look forward to getting up in the morning and going to work.’’