PAUL’S FAM­ILY ‘DEV­AS­TATED’ BY DE­LAY IN GET­TING HIM INTO HOME

Wales On Sunday - - NEWS - JAMES MCCARTHY Re­porter james.mccarthy@waleson­line.co.uk

THE fam­ily of quad­ri­plegic Paul Cur­tis have been left “gut­ted” be­cause the ex-Har­lequins star’s re­lease from hos­pi­tal has been de­layed. It was hoped the former rugby player – who broke his neck hav­ing hur­tled down­hill on a moun­tain bike into a tree – would be able to move into a nurs­ing home on Novem­ber 27.

But a bu­reau­cratic hold-up meant the OK was given a week later than hoped.

By the time it came, the bed in the nurs­ing home had been filled – so Paul is still in Rookwood Hos­pi­tal in Cardiff, which spe­cialises in re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

“He’s back in Rookwood,” wife Rhian said.

“We’re ab­so­lutely gut­ted. Rookwood are con­tact­ing dif­fer­ent care homes in the area to see if any­one has a room and if any­one has the nurs­ing skills needed to look after him.

“We’re dev­as­tated, ab­so­lutely dev­as­tated, but we can­not change it.”

She said dad-of-three Paul had been “amaz­ing” in cop­ing with the set­back.

“He is go­ing to be there for at least an­other fort­night and we are work­ing our socks off to get him out be­fore Christ­mas,” Rhian, 56, said. “It’s a damn shame but there you are.” Paul was left fight­ing for his life after a moun­tain bike ac­ci­dent that left him wheel­chair-bound. “It’s no one’s fault, it’s just how the sys­tem works,” Rhian said.

“The nurs­ing home kept Paul’s bed empty for a cou­ple of weeks so they played their part.”

After the ac­ci­dent Paul was raced to Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal of Wales, Cardiff, by am­bu­lance.

At 20 stone and 6ft 2in Paul, nick­named Titch, was too big to get in a he­li­copter.

Rhian was philo­soph­i­cal about the de­lay.

“It’s hap­pened for a rea­son and it might be that some­where bet­ter or nicer comes up,” the re­tired teacher said.

“You’ve to al­ways have a ‘glass half­full’ at­ti­tude.

“Paul wants to come closer to home be­cause he does not like me driv­ing at night in the win­ter.

“And it means the grand­chil­dren can go and see him in the evenings in­stead of once a week.”

This is im­pos­si­ble at the mo­ment be­cause Paul is in Cardiff and his fam­ily live in Pen­clawdd, Gower.

“There is a nurs­ing home at the bot­tom of the road where my daugh­ter and grand­chil­dren live,” Rhian said.

“He was say­ing if he goes there and has an elec­tric wheel­chair he can take them to school.”

Paul was lucky to sur­vive his crash, on Septem­ber 17 last year.

After it he spent months pumped full of drugs look­ing at the ceil­ing.

“We’ll have him out of there by Christ­mas – we’ll get him some­where, we’ve got a month,” Rhian said.

“I do not want him to spend an­other Christ­mas in hos­pi­tal. We’ll find him some­where.”

In Oc­to­ber Paul beat the odds and es­corted his daugh­ter down the aisle at her wed­ding to fi­ancé Liam Bracher.

“The sooner we get all this sorted the bet­ter,” Rhian said.

The fam­ily are try­ing to raise £150,000 to con­vert their home to suit Paul’s needs.

Rhian was un­sure ex­actly how much had been raised so far but it could be as much as £100,000.

More fundrais­ers are due to take place – in­clud­ing a meal at Michel Roux Jr’s Miche­lin starred Le Gavroche, or­gan­ised by former Eng­land rugby cap­tain Will Car­ling.

“With­out wish­ing to put a curse on it, I think we’ll prob­a­bly go over the amount we need,” Rhian said.

For more de­tails and to con­trib­ute to the fund visit www.paulcur­t­is­fund.com

RICHARD WIL­LIAMS

Former rugby player Paul Cur­tis is hop­ing to move from Rookwood Hos­pi­tal, Cardiff, into a nurs­ing home

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