Paul: We’ve always been big travellers; every penny we had we used for holidays. We worked long hours in the retail industry so when it was time to travel, we would go all over the place – here and abroad. Five years ago we decided to take early retirement to take some time to just travel. We moved into my mother in law’s place to have a base. The accident happened in Corfu. I had travelled out there to celebrate my birthday and my wife Sarah was due to come out the next day. We had been travelling to Corfu for the last 15 years; we knew it well. We had brought a holiday home out there and were planning to do it up as a bit of a DIY project – it’s not my trade but I’m a bit handy.

Sarah: Paul ended up collapsing whilst in the loo and up until now there has been no reason as to why it happened- nothing could be found. He ended up falling forward and compressed his C4/C5 vertebrae. At first there was not a flicker of movement, it was touch and go for a while and was literally life and death. After about two weeks he was assessed as fit to fly. 

Sarah and Paul with their heads together

Paul: After three months in hospital I moved to the Stoke Mandeville Spinal Injury Centre. We were still in the midst of COVID-19 and although things were starting to relax a little bit, I was put in isolation when I first arrived. Although my wife was allowed to visit, it all had to prebooked, she had to provide proof of vaccinations and could only stay for an hour.

Sarah: Moving back to mum’s was not a possibility.  She had decided that it was a good time to change careers and wanted to become a foster carer and understandably she didn’t want her house pulled apart. I ended up living in a caravan in the drive whilst Paul was in hospital – none of these options were going to be suitable. We were already on the housing list before Aspire was mentioned. We were bidding and would get into the top five but we wouldn’t get any further. A lot of the time the landlord would see our application, realise we needed a wheelchair adapted property and would just write back ‘can’t be adapted to your needs’ and refuse our bid. One of the first properties we viewed was way too small to accommodate Paul’s electric wheelchair.  It was getting closer and closer to Paul being able to come out of hospital and we were doing everything in our power to try and find somewhere. Then our Case Manager told us about Aspire.


It was brilliant having such wide doorways in the Aspire property; Paul felt he could get around much more easily than if he was in a property with bog standard doors. It had everything he needed to help him get out of hospital. We were grateful for anything that would help him do that. 

Now that we are in our own property we’ve been able to take what we’ve learned in the Aspire house and apply it here. We had the tiniest of sinks in the bathroom when we moved in, which wasn’t at the right height for Paul. We ended up getting a similar sink to the one we had used in the Aspire property which we could then fit to the right height. He can now get right under it - otherwise he would have ended up washing his teeth in the kitchen sink. 

Paul: I was ready to get out of hospital, I had become institutionalised. Being stuck within four walls was tough - the food, the whole process of being in hospital, the distance from family - it was starting to have an effect on my mental health.

Paul in his wheelchair

Sarah: I was happy to finally have my husband back home. I had to get used to all the equipment and having different people in my home as Paul needs carers. I had to learn what he needed in a home environment. I too was worried about Paul’s mental health as it hadn’t been great. After all the apprehension, I was excited that he was now home.

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