'I could have got to Uni without the IPF help, but I'm not sure I would have gone to Uni without the IPF help.'
Tom Horey is Project Officer for Health at the Herts Sports Partnership with responsibilities including leading on the East of England Mind Regional Network Hub, walking sports, disability sports, Herts reCycle Project, local activation of the We Are Undefeatable campaign, and the Partnership’s Lead Safeguarding Officer.
His Partnership Director John O’Callagham describes him as “A great personality, very, very bright and a fantastic addition to the team.”
He was, says O’Callagham, the top student at Hertfordshire University when achieving a first-class honours business management degree which led to his employment after he had volunteered with the Partnership.
And yet, Tom would probably never have gone to university without support from the RFU Injured Players Foundation which “enabled me to grow and improved my confidence.”
After a traumatic spinal injury while playing rugby, someone from the IPF arrived with a signed England shirt. “It was my 18th birthday and they worked with my family on the support available, helped adapt our house so that the environment was suitable for me.”
Over time Tom joined other IPF clients on a tall ships trip “quite an eventful experience as it was really choppy and I suffered from sea sickness but I definitely got a lot out of it. I also went skiing in Andorra, spending time with other injured players which was such a positive experience, like a rugby tour with skiing instead of the rugby.”
It was the IPF support that persuaded Tom to study for a degree. “I don’t think I would have gone to university without the IPF help, I had such low confidence,” he says. “I ended up with a first-class honours business management degree, which I was delighted with, and from that I got full-time employment with the Herts Sport Partnershiop, apprenticeship qualifications, and two promotions.”
He says that, having experienced first-hand the benefits that sport and physical activity has had on his own mental and physical wellbeing, he is passionate about advocating for the power this can have on the wider population.
He set up wheelchair rugby taster sessions in Hertfordshsire after a request from Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby and the group now has more than 20 members. He’s also chair of Saracens Wheelchair Rugby , and plays for the team.
O’Callaghan considers Tom “one of the greatest success stories. He won’t mind me saying that at the start he was short of confidence and had been through real trauma. To see him now and all that he has achieved I can be nothing but hugely proud.”