Matt Hampson, the inspirational former Rugby Union player, was the special guest at St Hugh’s School, Woodhall Spa, last Friday.
Hampson, a prop forward, looked set for international stardom until his career was cut short by a devastating injury.
He became a C4/5 tetraplegic after a scrummaging practice accident for England U21s in March 2005.
Since then, he has started his own foundation, raising funds in support of other people who have suffered serious sporting injuries.
Hampson visited St Hugh’s to speak at an assembly and pick up a cheque from pupils who raised £1,165 at a sponsored fun run.
He was certainly a popular figure with pupils who described his talk as “fantastic and inspirational.”
Hampson started playing rugby at the age of five and joined Leicester Tigers’ academy at U16 level.
He was regarded as a promising prop and although he had not made his Leicester debut, he had been an unused bench replacement.
His accident happened when the England U21 team were preparing for a match against Scotland. In what he described as a freak accident, a scrum collapsed and Hampson dislocated his neck, severing his spinal cord.
Referee and former paramedic Tony Spreadbury was praised for his quick reaction to stabilise Hampson’s neck, saving him even further damage that could have resulted in his death.
Hampson was taken first to Northampton General Hospital and then to the specialist spine unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, where he had an operation to relocate his spine.
He spent 18 months in Stoke Mandeville, where he contracted a life-threatening Clostridium difficile infection.
He requires the permanent use of a ventilator to breathe.
Hampson divides his time between raising money for spinal care both for himself and others, and UK charity Spinal Research.
He also coaches youngsters at Oakham School.
Pictured above are L-R Head Boy Freddie Bowser, Headmaster Chris Ward, Mark Hampson, Director of Sport Mark Callun, Head girl Charlotte Would.