"Remaining a central part of family that has been there through thick and thin is fundamentally important".

Ben Smoldon, aged 41, suffered a broken neck playing for Sutton Coldfield Colts when he was 17. Since then, with support from his family, friends and the IPF, he has lived a full life made possible by his determination and the funding of specialist equipment that has kept him active. So active, in fact, that, as chairman of Sutton’s playing committee, he was nominated to be an Olympic torch bearer by upcoming chairman Geoff Fletcher, to cover what Ben called “the best 300 metres of my life.” Fletcher’s citation said: “Ben has dedicated his last 20 years to serve the community in any way he can – selflessly volunteering his time to the club he loves. He has immense gifts, his courage supports and enriches the lives of all of involved with the club and his passion inspires all, especially young people.” Ben’s father Roger, who died ten years earlier, would have been so proud. “He was a role model and a massive inspiration for me. He encouraged me to lead as full a life as possible despite the situation I was in,” said Ben. And with IPF help, Ben became a father himself to twin sons, Toby and Oliver. “I remember being in tears with my parents and saying, at 17, that I would never be able to bring them grandchildren,” said Ben. “Since then I realised that there were possibilities of having children. Claire and I had six failed IVF attempts and we wanted to give it another go. I contacted the Injured Players Foundation, to ask whether a small grant would cover IVF treatment. “I rang on the Monday and by the end of the week we had a cheque through the post. This time the IVF treatment worked. Our twin boys keep me very busy. Every day is different. It’s great being able to share their lives as they grow up.”

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