"Now I'm back with the family where I belong and it's all thanks to the Foundation."
When Sandbach RFC player, David Twemlow, was airlifted off a rugby pitch in March 2009, he and his wife, Sarah, faced a truly frightening and uncertain future.
An emergency operation in the local hospital stabilised a catastrophic spinal injury before David was moved to a world-famous specialist unit near Oswestry.
For five months his life was one of physiotherapy, gym work and gruelling rehabilitation, until he could manage to sit in a wheelchair and then propel it himself. He battled to manage a few steps with crutches, so that when Sarah and their six-year-old daughter Heather made the 100 mile round trip to visit they would see him making progress. Sarah carried on working to save compassionate leave for David's eventual return home and both knew it was important to maintain as much normality for Heather as possible.
A helping hand
All this time the IPF's Injured Player Welfare Officer was there to help and support them. When he visited their home at Newcastle-under-Lyme near Stoke on Trent it was immediately clear that it would be totally unsuitable for David to return to and was beyond adapting for his needs. The IPF swung into action and, with David staying weekends in a local Holiday Inn to be with the family and insurance taking time, the IPF provided a grant of £200,000 for the Twemlows to buy a home where the family could live together and David could return to as normal a life as possible.
The couple viewed properties and found a bungalow which was wheelchair accessible and met most of David's needs. The IPF made a grant of £15,000 to put a wet room into the couple's bedroom to give David total independence and remove any need for carers to come in each morning.
The whole process took just under 4 months; for the IPF to make the rehousing grant, then for the Twemlow's to find a suitable bungalow and move in.
A brighter future
The family enjoyed Christmas in their new home and David, a street lighting designer, is looking forward to an eventual return to work. The Twemlows are also saving for a family holiday to Disneyland, Florida. Says David, "I can't believe what the RFU and IPF have done for me and my family right from the start. It was such a massive relief to know that the Welfare Officer was there to care for my family and I can't thank the Foundation enough. It is their help that inspired me to focus on my rehab, to get stronger every day and be able to go out with Heather and play the role of dad again. Now I'm back with the family where I belong and it's all thanks to the Foundation."
Sarah recalls walking down the hospital corridor late at night and meeting the IPF Welfare Officer walking towards her. "I was so relieved," says Sarah, "to have someone to answer my questions and reassure me that the rugby family would support David and us through this difficult time. It was nine o'clock at night and they had only been notified of David's injury that afternoon.
"Over the following months the IPF were amazing and I really don't believe we would have got through it without them. We are now back together as a family in a new bungalow suitable for David to get around in his wheelchair, all funded by an IPF grant. All we can say, as a family, is a great big thank you."