The second instalment of the Bill Blenkinsopp story begins with the accident on the way to the races which almost claimed his life.

"This is why I'll always have money," says Bill Blenkinsopp, handing me a small, brown envelope.

At first I can't see anything, but then something catches my eye.

I take it out of the envelope, but I still can't quite work out what I'm looking at.

"It's a pound note," says Bill, 72, who lives in Aycliffe Village.

And so it is. Folded and charred, but unmistakably a pound note.

It's the only item remaining from a horrific accident which happened 53 years ago - and Bill keeps it to remind him of the day that changed his life forever.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Last week we told the story of Bill's early years as a jockey.

After a stuttering start to the career he had always dreamed of, the then 17-year-old Bill had landed a job as an apprentice with trainer Buster Fenningworth, master of Bell Isle and Hurgill Lodge in Richmond, North Yorkshire.

Everything appeared to be going in the right direction for Bill. He was getting plenty of rides and had landed his first winner. And he had a sideline as an amateur boxer, winning the national Stable Lads' Association Boxing title in the seven stone weight division.

But all that changed on Saturday, April 22, 1967.

Bill was travelling to Ayr races with Mr Fenningworth and stable jockey Albert 'Brig' Robson.

It was a big day for Bill as he had been due to ride the red hot favourite in a £1,000 race.

But as the car they were in reached Ecclefechan, a small village in in Dumfries and Galloway in the south of Scotland, disaster struck.

Fenningworth, who was driving the Aston Martin, lost control. The car ploughed through a crash barrier, plunged 20ft down an embankment and burst into flames.

"It just kept rolling and rolling and then it exploded," recalls Bill.

"How I got out if it, I'll never know."

Driver Fenningworth and front seat passenger Robson were thrown from the vehicle

Bill remembers crawling out of the shell of the car, hearing Robson screaming and a woman crying and then the bells of the ambulance as it approached.

All three were transferred to Dumfries Hospital, but Fenningworth was so badly injured he died en route.

Both Blenkinsopp and Robson, 25, were described as "very critical".

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Bill was not expected to survive. He suffered 68 per cent first degree burns and at one point was given two hours to live " at most".

Newspaper reports in the days that followed reported on his progress, but while Robson was improving, there continued to be "no change" in Bill's condition and his prognosis looked bleak.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Fenningworth's wife Barbara, despite her own grief, sent a letter to Bill's mother which read: "You have my deepest sympathy at this time."

But Bill didn't die and gradually - very gradually - he improved.

His recovery was slow and painful, especially the series of painful skin grafts he had to endure every two weeks.

"I had to just grin and bear it," says Bill, stoically

His burns were so extensive, that the only 'live' skin he had was a small square at the base of his collar and below his right eye.

Surgeons had to turn to his brothers for healthy skin to graft onto Bill's wounds.

In hospital, Bill's weight had plummeted to 2st 8lbs. It was eight weeks before he was allowed to see himself in a mirror. He had to learn to walk again and it was 18 months before he could hold a cup.

One memory from his recovery which has stuck with Bill is the day he received an unexpected visit.

He was at home in Aycliffe Village when a large car pulled up.

"It was a Rolls Royce," says Bill. "The village had never seen a Rolls Royce before."

There was a knock on the door and the vistor identified himself as Will Sherman, of the Anglo-American Sporting Club, the powerful sponsors of the Stable Lads' Boxing Association boxing championships he had won the year before.

"He came to invite me down to present the cup I had won the year before to the new champion," says Bill.

His injuries meant he was unable to attend, but it was an act of kindness Bill would never forget. And it was the first of many.

At the boxing championships that year, a bookmaker named Tommy Marshall, who had presented him with the cup the previous year, got together with other bookmakers from Scotland and the North to open a fund for Bill, presenting him with a cheque for £215 before Christmas.

Northern jockeys opened another fund, raising £400. A golf match between sides representing flat race jockeys and national hunt jockeys was organised.

Perhaps most remarkably, Yorkshire wicketkeeper Jimmy Binks help to arrange a charity cricket match between a Yorkshire XI and a team of northern racing personalities.

The game attracted several well-known personalities, including Jack Charlton.

Incredibly, the a crowd of 1,400 saw 'Big Jack' bowl out Geoffrey Boycott and another Yorkshire cricketer. Peter Chadwick, in the same over.

As Bill recovered, he harboured dreams of returning to the saddle, or at least returning to horseracing in some capacity.

Doctors severed the tendons of his hands and stitched them together again in an effort to restore the use of his fingers and gradually Bill adapted to a new way of life.

He passed his driving test, bought a speedboat and built up a smallholding rented from Aycliffe Development Corporation.

He never did get back to riding horses professionally. But he did become a trainer for a short while and did some work for trainer Denys Smith at Bishop Auckland, helping to saddle a horse named Foggy Bell which went onto win the Lincoln handicap at Doncaster.

But he never did fully realise his dreams of returning to the saddle as a jockey and says he is still "gutted" to this day he was unable to go back to that life.

He still keeps hold if his memories of those days when he was a jockey – and a boxer.

He has the trophies he won – a little battered and bruised now – and a scrapbook full of press cuttings, photographs and letters.

And there is that pound note.

It was recovered from the back pocket of the jeans he was wearing that day, placed in an envelope stamped with the words 'on police service' and handed to his mother.

He's kept it safe ever since.

"It's why I'll always have money," he says again, perhaps remembering what could have been.