Inspiring and supporting young people seriously injured through sport


My name is Tom Somerville and, like Hambo, I suffered a high-level spinal injury playing rugby, leaving me tetraplegic since 2003. At the time I was aged just 16 and had been an active sportsmen; playing cricket and rugby for clubs and school, and had recently been selected and played for Middlesex at County level.

My injury happened in open play and I must have landed in the wrong position, as I was effectively crushed at the bottom of a ruck. After a 9 month stint at Stoke Mandeville's spinal unit, where I received the best of NHS support, I returned home and to sixth-form college. Ironically my injury seemed to help me academically as my grades improved and I was offered a place at Warwick University to study History and Sociology.

At this stage Hambo's Foundation was still growing. I gained financial assistant from the Rugby Football Union's charity the Injured Players Foundation whom actually recommended Hambo's foundation to me and helped put me in contact with them for my recent support claim. I graduated from Warwick, with a first-class degree in History and Sociology, and after a few years of both working and a period of ill-health, I became interested in philosophy (spinal injury certainly makes you stop and think about yourself and the world around you!).

In 2011 I took up a place at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, based at Kingston University, studying a part-time Masters in Philosophy and critical theory. At this stage the Matt Hampson Foundation was suggested to me as an active and strong supporter of positive, forward-looking disabled people striving to lead fulfilling and successful lives.

After a friendly meeting with John Dickens, chief executive officer for Hambo's foundation, it was agreed that the IPF and Matt Hampson Foundation would basically split the costs of my personal assistants room in university halls and my tuition fees between them.

The support of the Matt Hampson Foundation and IPF, who recommended Hambo to me, has been essential in ensuring that I am not loaded down with debt like much of my generation. As I have a 24 hour personal assistant I obviously require two rooms at university; so effectively my costs are double those of the average student. Therefore the support I received is absolutely essential and ensured I could take the Masters, as I would probably not have applied without this vital financial support.

In the long run I hope that the support of the Foundation will prove to be beneficial not just for me but for spinally-injured and disabled people in general; as I intend to use my skills and knowledge acquired to fight for disability rights and perhaps a career in politics or the public sphere. The Matt Hampson Foundation is a vital support for those who have suffered life-changing injuries but who don't view this as meaning an enjoyable and truly meaningful life is impossible. The Foundation actively encourages those they support in really getting out there and fulfilling their potential, and Hambo himself is an inspirational example of a life lived to its fullest in the face of extreme adversity.


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