‘Life af­ter an ac­ci­dent isn’t bad… it’s just dif­fer­ent’

Best - - BEST FOR AWARDS - says MATT HAMPSON

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

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