FIGHTING fit Kevin Hanna was embarrassed when he ran his car into the back of a stationary vehicle.

"Get your eyes tested'', quipped family and friends.

He did, and what the test revealed will change the course of his life for ever.

Super fit Kevin, at the age of 34 was found to have a tumour as large as a golf ball in his brain.

He has recently undergone major surgery, during which he nearly died, but is now back in Hereford picking up the pieces of his life again.

One of his first trips outside his home in Loder Drive was to attend the recent annual dinner of Westfields Football Club.

He had played for the club for a couple of seasons before taking over as player manager of their Herefordshire League Premier Division team last year.

Players and management alike were devastated when he broke the news of his life threatening condition and he was given a standing ovation by the 126 guests when he sat at the top table and made a speech saying how much enjoyment he got from his association with the club.

Kevin Hanna had everything going for him when fate took such a cruel turn earlier this year.

He was well known in the city having spent 10 years with Connells estate agents, buying and selling houses and ending up sales manager.

In January he had started a new job with the Alliance and Leicester Bank in the city, and his Westfields team was doing well in the league.

Hereford born and bred he is a popular and colourful figure, and believes in living life to the full.

Football, music and meeting people come top of his favourite list. He has run marathons, helped raise money for local charities and been a presenter on Hereford Hospital Radio, chatting to patients and playing their requests.

Above all he had settled down to a happy life with his partner, Jackie.

Many describe Kevin as a larger than life figure and news of the discovery of his tumour stunned everyone.

Kevin recalls noticing occasional mistiness affecting his right eye, but it was the traffic bump and the eye test that led to the shocking diagnosis.

He received the news of a brain tumour over the phone on a Friday evening, and thought the end of his world had come.

Kevin is fortunate to be a member of two large Catholic families, one in Hereford, the Mills, and the Hanna in Northern Ireland - and with Jackie they rallied round to give him strength and support through prayer.

At the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham he saw scan pictures of his head and the invading tumour, and was told surgery was imperative.

Waiting was a nightmare. The first date was cancelled on the morning before admission, the second when he was dressed in his operation gown, but the third was on target.

Amazingly, Kevin, buoyed up by the power of prayer, was calm and relaxed when he went into the operating theatre at the end of March but it is day his family will never forget.

Surgery lasted 12 hours. Surgeons found the tumour was in the bone, and into the brain, making their task more dangerous, and difficult.

Kevin lost 22 pints of blood and suffered a stroke. He was placed on total life support and there were serious fears for his life.

"After 48 hours he was taken off support and we were expecting the worst. But suddenly we saw Kevin tapping his fingers to background music. We kept calling his name and he came round and we all knew he would be alright,'' said Jackie.

But he was to be in hospital in Birmingham for two month facing a tough test to recovery.

Back home he pays tribute to all the people in Hereford, including his parents Kathleen and Vincent Hanna, sisters and brothers-in-law, Catholic priests, football friends, teachers, parents and children who have sent letters and messages of support.

At the moment he is undergoing more scans and tests to prepare him for radiotherapy.

He has been told he might have to go to France for the right treatment, with a chance it could be available in London.

Kevin and Jackie are now going through the process of re-evaluating their lifestyle.

He is unable to drive, gets very tired, is still suffering the effects of his stroke, faces radiotherapy and more surgery in the future. He is also coping with the total loss of sight in one eye and reduced vision in the other.

However, Kevin is a strong man with a big personality and still has everything to live for.

He is keen to get back to work and would like to take an Open University course some time in the future.

At Westfields Football Club chief executive Andrew Morris describes him as their 'miracle' man.

"It is a miracle he came through this'' he said.

"He is a smashing guy who did only good for Westfields. He has such an infectious enthusiasm which spreads itself to the team.

"The door will never be closed for him at Westfields,'' promised Andrew.