I broke my neck. Within half an hour I was in hospital being told that I would never walk again.
I have partial use of my arms, no movement in my hands or fingers and limited sensation in the rest of my body, the prognosis is permanent.
From the outset my employer was very supportive. They made it clear that when I was ready my job would be waiting for me. Knowing that gave me a goal over the nine months I spent in hospital. From hospital, it made sense that to move back to my parents' house, but I wanted to maintain the relationship I had with them as an independent young man. This meant I would need live-in care, which the local authority funded, along with some adaptations to the house.
A year to the day after my accident I returned to work. I remember being sat at the same desk, doing the same job, but in a very different chair. I slowly built up my stamina over the period of a year until I was able to take up the contract that I had started before the accident. Gradually, I found a rhythm to life, working full-time, volunteering for a young accountants group and getting involved with wheelchair-sports.
It was around that time that I won the caba and ICAEW Global Inspiration Award. It came as a real surprise. I felt that, despite what had happened, I was only doing what I would have done anyway. I hadn't expected others to notice, let alone give you me an award for it! It gave me a real boost. I was awarded £5,000, which is a huge sum of money. I was able to use it, along with some help from my parents, to put a deposit on a my own home. We made very similar adaptations to my new home as we had to my parents' house.
Initially I was just delighted to be in my own home. However, over time, I became increasingly frustrated. I was a busy professional with so many extracurricular things I was doing, and I was getting stronger and more confident. But I was still unable to do some simple things like get a glass of water on my own.
I talked to caba about these feelings and they suggested sending an Occupational Therapist in to assess my home. The therapist came to the same conclusion as me: I could achieve more if the house wasn't disabling me. For example, I can shave and clean my own teeth, but I had to get my carer to assist me as I couldn't get to the sink. There were lots of little things like that, which when you add them up, had a big impact on independence. The house was holding me back.
caba encouraged me to get the adaptations drawn-up and costed. It came to quite a substantial sum, well beyond the provisions available from local authorities. I was stunned when caba told me that they would give me a grant for the full amount, and that all the adaptations could be done immediately. It was a dream come true.
The building work has more or less finished now, and it has already made so much of a difference. The kitchen work-top, sink and hobs are now height adjustable. When a friend comes I can actually offer them a drink, go in the kitchen and get it for them, instead of waiting while they go and help themselves. There's room around the fridge so if I want to eat something I can, without asking someone.
I cooked for myself for the first time this week. It was something very simple, and yes, I made an almighty mess (I always have), but I cried. It is amazing to be able to do some simple things again. I can do so many things that were impossible before. I am going to keep pushing myself to achieve more, with the ultimate aim of reducing the amount of support I need from my care assistant.
I feel blessed to have been given so much support and I try to make good on this by giving my time and support to projects whenever I can. I often think about what would have happened if I had trained as something else or entered another profession. Without such a good employer and the support of caba, my situation may have been very different indeed.
caba supports the wellbeing of past and present ICAEW members, ACA students, ICAEW staff members, and their spouses, partners and children up to the age of 25. For advice, information and support please: