Edward Duckworth, aged 29, and his 25-year-old twin brothers, Rowan and Andrew, are running the TCS London Marathon 2023 to support rugby players who experience life-changing injuries.
Their father, Dr Stephen Duckworth, broke his neck at a training session as a 21-year-old third-year medical student in 1981, when he played scrum half for Guys Hospital, which he proudly insists is “the oldest rugby club in the world.”
At that time there was no Injured Players Foundation (IPF) and no player insurance, so when Stephen was in Stoke Mandeville he and his family were on their own. His father petitioned for more help and insurance for those catastrophically injured playing or training and Stephen says “My accident started the ball rolling. I’ve only really understood the impact my injury had on my parents since being the father of four sons playing rugby.”
Stephen's Wide Ranging Work
He is both client and trustee of the RFU Injured Players Foundation and is very involved in working to improve the world for “us wheelchair folk". He is also a trustee for Leonard Cheshire Disability and Non-Executive Director for Hampshire Hospital NHS Trust, Network Rail and the group involved in upgrading Parliament’s environment at the Palace of Westminster.
As an IPF client, he has been able to travel on holidays because the charity has funded a carer since his wife Rose’s arthritis has made it impossible for her to help. “I couldn’t have a family holiday without it,” says Stephen. “And family is tremendously important to me.”
Stephen talks of the impressive achievements of the IPF, especially: “the way the charity helps clients get back into education and training. When I joined the trustees six years that figure was 50%, now it’s 78%. Set that percentage for injured players in education or employment against the national average for those with high level spinal cord injuries and it’s seven times better for IPF clients, the national figure being 10%. So, we have many more contributing members of society paying taxes.”
Very Proud of Dad
His sons say: “Dad has never let his injury stop him achieving great things in his life and he has been an inspiration to many, including us. We all believe that with the correct support, people with life-changing injuries can thrive in life. We are very proud of our dad and all he has accomplished and to show our appreciation, we wanted to raise some money for the RFU Injured Players Foundation, who provide support and information to rugby players in England who sustain a catastrophic spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury playing the game and help prevent future injuries through vital research.
“Dad just so happens to be a trustee and avid supporter of the charity's work and has benefitted from their support in the past. Their assistance is available to any player, from grassroots up to professional level, to empower them to lead their lives as fully and independently as they are able to. They are there for the player, family, friends and club immediately after injury and for the rest of their lives.
“They are continually funding research to make breakthroughs to understand how they can improve the care of the injured player and make the game of rugby safer with the vision to allow everyone to play without life-changing injuries occurring. They also offer help to individuals who sustain injuries while playing rugby that are not classed as a catastrophic spinal cord injury or a traumatic brain injury, by providing information and where possible by relieving financial hardship.
“We want everyone who loves the game to get involved. We need you to help raise funds and raise awareness to support injured players and to fund vital research.”
The IPF supports rugby players who, while playing or training in England at any level and at any age, suffer a catastrophic spinal cord or traumatic brain injury. The charity helps players through recovery, rehabilitation and for the rest of their lives and also funds research to help prevent and manage these rare but devastating injuries. To discover more visit www.rfuipf.org.uk.