Tom Hughes who, while an army officer, was catastrophically injured playing rugby seven years ago has now achieved a doctorate with the support of the RFU Injured Players Foundation.
Having just returned from serving in Afghanistan in 2011, he was injured during a match while preparing for selection for the Army team. Since then Tom has piled up the plaudits, abseiling down onto the Twickenham pitch with the match ball, earning a Masters degree, becoming a diving instructor and the only wheelchair user in the world qualified to use a rebreather, and now being awarded a doctorate. His thesis was ‘The limitations of using hard power for humanitarian intervention by the UK.’
Tom explained to IPF and RFU staff at a pre-Christmas gathering just how the IPF has helped him to continue living a life that suits his action man image. After initial support of him and his family after his injury, the charity has helped with intensive physiotherapy which made a big difference. His then did a defence fellowship at Oxford, and at the same time a Masters with Glasgow funded by a military charity. The IPF funded an all-terrain hopper “which after my army background meant I could be outside and active again.”
Having done scuba diving in the army, he qualified as a dive instructor in 2017 and the IPF funded his rebreather and now he wants to help other injured players learn to dive.
Before Christmas he graduated at St Andrews University, having achieved his PhD. Said Tom: “I had a career ripped away from me but thanks to the IPF the past seven years have been a physical progression and now finishing my Phd has opened up a whole new set of pathways for the future.”
Among his plans are a round the world diving trip on a boat being built to be wheelchair accessible, with his all-terrain buggy on board.
Said Tom: “The support of the IPF and all that people do to raise funds makes a tremendous difference. The charity is so forward looking, and aims to help people who have been injured to achieve their independence. I am so grateful for all the effort everyone puts in to help me and other catastrophically injured players lead full lives.”
Watch this YouTube video to find out more about Tom's story.