Not many people get to celebrate their 8-th birthday in hospitality at an England Test match, but that's what happen for Jeff Burn, who was suprised with a cake and candles as everyone in the Injured Players Foundation hospitality box sang happy birthday at half-time in the England vs France Six Nations match.
Jeff was 59 when catastrophically injured. “I was usually captaining the Didsbury Toc H fourth team but was playing for the 3s on December 2, 2002 because they were without a hooker,” he recalls.
“We had five minutes to play when in a scrum I took the weight of their pack and heard something click. I broke my neck at C3 and C4 but fortunately my spinal column wasn’t broken. I spent six months in Southport Spinal Injury Unit, initially paralysed and also had pneumonia and a collapsed lung. When I came home I was just about able to walk but had damage to my limbs so I had a lot of recovery work to do.”
Jeff, who has a daughter Lindsey and son Gavin, was unable to return to work as European sales manager for an engineering company and say he has been fortunate to have support from the Injured Players Foundation and their forerunner SPIRE, which merged with the RFU’s official charity.
“It has been great to know that the IPF is there for me and my wife, Anne,” says Jeff. “Knowing that they are there to wrap their arms around you makes a big difference. Apart from practical help like adapting my bathroom and making a cost of living grant, they make sure you are not left completely isolated.
“Being involved with other injured players in a similar situation helps. I’ve been to lunches in Lancashire and at Sale and people check in on me locally. Coming to Twickenham to watch England is something you really look forward to and being here with my son Gavin and grandson Charlie today as everyone celebrated my 80th, blowing out the candles on my cake, was pretty special.”
The IPF provides support and information to rugby players in England who sustain a catastrophic spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury playing the game, and helps prevent future injuries through vital research. To discover more or how to help please click here.