RST was ‘the light in a dark time’

“The Rooprai Spinal Trust has given me hope, confidence, knowledge, compassion and friendship…”

Sam James, 22, cannot speak highly enough of his friends, Marrianne and Andy at the RST. And he is not the only one.

Mum Angie said: “For me they offered hope and light during a very dark and terrifying time. The support and friendship that they have given to my son is more than we could ever have hoped for.”

It was certainly a scary time for Sam and his family when he had a swimming accident as a teenager, suffering a neck injury that left him a tetraplegic.

While he was in hospital Angie tried to line up suitable physio for when Sam returned to their Diss, Norfolk, home. Another patient recommended Prime Physio, in Cambridge, and they advised him to call RST.

Sam said: “All we were looking for at this stage was some support and guidance. It is extremely hard to visualise what going home is going to be like.

“Everything is so overwhelming to start with and speaking to people like the RST, it helps give you that bit of confidence to look into the future.”

Sam says Marrianne and Andy are “two of the loveliest people I know”, who have a real depth of knowledge when it comes to spinal cord injuries.

“It is so confidence-boosting in the beginning to be around people like that. Everything is new and everything is unknown. Feeling like you have someone you can speak to about anything was just so helpful.

“They helped me access the physio treatment I needed via Prime Physio.

Physios this knowledgeable are hard to find and expensive. The help from the RST enabled me to go to physio regularly.

“You can’t underestimate the importance of physio with an SCI. It not only gives you the tools to increase strength and mobility, it boosts esteem, hope and direction for the future. It helps channel energy and focus in to something positive.”

At the 2019 RST fundraising ball, Sam donated a piece of artwork that he had created by holding the paintbrush in his mouth to the auction. The painting fetched £1,000, with a losing bidder pledging an equal amount for Sam to paint a second work.

“That night was one of the highlights for me when Andy wheeled me to centre stage, absolutely terrified, to auction off my mouth painting. I was just looking forward to giving something back and was absolutely amazed and overwhelmed by the response.”

Sam, ever the gentleman, leaves the final word to his mum. “The support from the RST has been phenomenal. Reading Marrianne’s journey on their website had me hooked before I’d even heard back from my initial email to them.

“The boost Sam gets from contact with Marrianne is unrivalled. Her strength of character and endurance is second to none. To use an overused word, she is a true inspiration.

“I have so much love for the RST.”