I was in my early 20s when I went on holiday to Kavos, Corfu, with the lads for a week.  On the last day of the trip me and a mate decided to go on a boat party. The rest of the lads went quad biking but I can’t drive because I’ve got epilepsy. We got off at the pier and me and my mate were chatting to some of the girls. One of them asked if I could swim and then pushed me into the sea.  I hit my head on the shallow sea floor and ended up lying in the water not being able to move. Loads of people jumped in and dragged me out of the water.

I used to play football 2-3 times a day. I was part of a local team before the accident and also played socially

When she got the call that I had been in an accident, my mum didn’t know whether I was dead or alive and flew out with my sister. I was transferred from hospital in Corfu to Athens but I just wanted to get home. The word ‘quadriplegic’ was put out there when she arrived, but I hadn’t been told yet. I needed surgery to get my hands working.

After coming round from an induced coma, I started to ask questions about what happened and whether I would be alright.  My arms weren’t moving, my legs weren’t moving. I kept bombarding my mum with questions and all she kept on saying was “let’s get you back to the UK.”

Once I was transferred to hospital in London, I was told that I was paralysed. It smashed my world to bits.

At least give me an explanation.  I don’t get angry ever, but this made me mad - no one explained to me what it meant.

I now realise who my proper friends are.  Family is important; my mum is like my best friend.  She didn’t want me to leave her house, but I couldn’t live at home anymore with my mum and brother. The idea was bandied about for me to go into a residential home but, following a meeting with our local council, we insisted that was not going to be an option.  In the Spinal injury Centre Lindsay, Aspire’s Independent Living Advisor, had mentioned Aspire Housing and my case manager told me about the potential of an Aspire house as an option.

Reece in the Aspire house

I had mixed emotions when I was leaving hospital. I had formed a little group with some of the other guys on the ward. We would race down the corridors in our chairs. It was like a little family.

I thought I would be able to cope by myself, but I had to get used to the idea that I’d need a carer.

When I met my carer, I clicked with him. I was new to this and it was a bit worrying but it now works for me.

When I first moved into the house, I felt a bit panicky.  My family are here a lot. I never realised how tough it is being adult. I could’ve been left playing bingo in an old people’s home.

I definitely feel more mature now that I’m living by myself

- Reece

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