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Matt Hampson

Matt Hampson

In March 2005, Leicester Tigers and England U21 player, Matt Hampson, was training with the England squad when he suffered a dislocation in his neck which trapped his spinal cord. It left him paralysed from the neck down, but more determined than ever from the neck up.

Restart Rugby supported Matt and his family throughout the 18 months he spent at Stoke Mandeville Hospital and on his return home. We assisted with medical costs and rehabilitation facilities at his specially renovated home, including a hydro pool for therapy sessions.

Matt – aka Hambo – was awarded the RPA Blyth Spirit Award in 2006, and in 2009 he became our first charity Ambassador. Without question, he is an incredible young man and an inspiration to everyone who knows his story.

“Rugby is the best team sport in the world, I don’t feel any bitterness. Why would I? I’ve got fantastic friends from the sport, as have my family. Rugby is not just a sport, it’s a way of life – and you don’t really know that until you have played.”

Since his accident, Matt has battled hard to live as normal a life as possible. He started his own charity – The Matt Hampson Foundation – so that others who have suffered catastrophic injury through sport can receive assistance, and he also delivers inspirational talks to young people around the country.

In conjunction with Paul Kimmage, Matt produced an award-winning book, Engage, that describes the circumstances surrounding his accident and subsequent rehabilitation. He also coaches young players at Oakham School and has written articles for the Leicester Mercury, Rugby World and Sky News.

“You’ve got to have hope, otherwise it would crush you. But you have to be realistic, too, and live life as well as you can without looking too far into the future. It’s about doing things rather than waiting for something to come along.”