‘Life after an accident isn’t bad… it’s just different’
Matt Hampson was just 20 when he suffered one of the most catastrophic injuries ever sustained by a rugby player. In March 2005, he was training for the England Under-21s when a scrum collapsed on top of him. His neck bore the full weight, and his spinal cord was trapped. The accident left Matt, from Leicestershire, paralysed from the shoulders down and unable to breathe without the aid of a ventilator. But, instead of feeling sorry for himself, Matt has fought back – and raised more than £2 million to help others in his position. After he was injured, Matt spent 18 months in hospital, and now needs a team of carers day and night. ‘It was a freak accident,’ he says. ‘I miss the camaraderie. I miss the physicality of rugby, the training, the intensity. I miss that winning feeling. ‘But I do feel that my life now far outweighs my life before. As a professional sportsperson, you have to be very self-absorbed. I am not as selfish as I used to be.’
No one could argue with that. With incredible strength of character, Matt adopted a line from his favourite film, The Shawshank Redemption, ‘Get busy living or get busy dying’, as a motto for life.
Since then, he has dedicated himself to helping others.
Get busy living! is the logo for The Matt Hampson Foundation, which inspires and supports young people who have been seriously injured through sport.
Earlier this year, the Foundation reached the staggering milestone of donating over £1 million to its beneficiaries.
The Foundation is also about to open a unique £1m rehabilitation centre, to treat people with catastrophic injuries. Built near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, on the site of an abandoned aircraft hangar, the centre is Matt’s dream.
Now 32, he says, ‘Life after an accident isn’t bad – it’s just not the same. People wouldn’t choose this, but it does get better. There are dark days… but life is what you make it.’
Rugby was his life ‘Get busy living!’ is Matt’s motto He was a rising star