"In many ways the IPF gave me my life back."

We always remember the best of our teachers and many pupils will recall being taught by John Burgess, whose serious neck injury in 2004 left him partially paralysed and in a wheelchair but with his passion for teaching unchanged. Associate assistant head teacher at Northfield School in Billingham, John was recognised when he became winner of the National Teacher of the Year in Secondary School Award, championed by other teachers, students and parents.

"I wanted to give something back, wanted to help children understand what education can give them, show them what they can achieve, and I wasn't going to let paralysis stop me from carrying on with the job that I love," said John.

Judged Outstanding by Ofsted and the local authority, he's an inspiration for pupils and staff. Said headteacher Craig Walker: "I am constantly inspired by him. I truly do not believe that I have the strength of will, or courage to achieve what he has already done, or what he is capable of on a daily basis at my school. I cannot think of anyone I've worked with who deserves this award more than John."

And John says this inspirational work has been made possible with the IPF's help.

"Without them I couldn't possibly continue my job or live the life I live. In many ways the IPF gave me my life back. They gave me the confidence and ability to be totally independent, work, play Great Britain wheelchair rugby and win the 2007 European Championship. They gave me opportunities and belief there was still life after the accident. Without both their emotional and practical support I wouldn't be where I am now."

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