Derry surfer who broke neck is 'happiest dad in world' after birth of daughter
A Londonderry man who almost died six weeks ago in a surfing accident is the "happiest daddy in the world" after the birth of his baby daughter.
Billy McMenamin, who is originally from Galliagh but now lives on The Gold Coast with his Australian-born partner Hayley, broke his neck after falling off his surfboard and hitting the seabed at Burleigh Point, one of the world's most renowned surfing destinations, in September.
Hayley, then almost eight months' pregnant, maintained a vigil beside the 39-year-old's hospital bed for a week as he lay flat on his back and unable to move while doctors assessed his condition.
He was told he was lucky he hadn't died or been left paralysed, with experts explaining he would spend at least three months recovering at home in a chest and neck brace.
Billy had to go back to the hospital recently, but this time it was for the birth of his daughter, Kiva.
"Everything couldn't be better," he told the Belfast Telegraph from Australia. "We were so, so happy with the birth of our daughter, Kiva.
"Now we know what all the fuss is about when everyone says it's the best feeling in the world to be a mum and dad.
"Kiva was born last week, a few days earlier than expected.
"Hayley's waters broke, so she was told to call in to the hospital. She thought she was going to be sent home again, but she was told she was going to be induced.
"I grabbed her bag and then I called her father because I still can't drive a car with all of my injuries.
"But I got there and stayed for the entire labour and birth.
"It's been six weeks now since the accident and I had been resting a lot, getting ready for the birth so I could be part of it and help with the duties - well, whatever help I can give as it's hard to see the baby right with the restriction of vision with the brace.
"I have had to step it up a gear and can do some things like making breakfast and lunch for us. This takes a lot out of me, but I have to battle on as it has to be done.
"I'm not even meant to be lifting my daughter's weight at 7lb, but try and tell that to the happiest daddy in the world."
Everyone in the family has been incredibly busy since Kiva's arrival, and Billy paid tribute to all the well-wishers who set up an online fundraising campaign and helped them out after the accident.
"Hayley's family have been a great help for us with household chores and shopping," the surfer explained.
"And I can't thank the people who helped raise money for us online and in fundraising enough.
"It definitely all adds up with the arrival of a newborn. We are so, so grateful."
While Billy faces a long road to recovery, he hopes to be back on his feet and fighting fit sooner rather than later.
"I visited the specialist last week and they recommended that I continue in the brace for another seven weeks as planned, but everything is looking good," he said.
"People ask when or will I be healed, but it's hard to say as everyone's different.
"But I'm so confident that I will be the fittest I've ever been this time next year, or I keep telling myself this anyhow.
"Either way, I'm looking at the great time now I will have at home healing with Hayley and Kiva, watching her grow."