As David Follett was about to begin study leave for his A-levels, he suffered serious spinal injuries and was left tetraplegic following a car accident. He’d been playing football with some friends when he offered to collect the ball after it had gone into the road. The driver of the car failed to see him in the road until it was too late.
After several weeks in his local hospital – Derriford Hospital in Plymouth – David was transferred to the Duke of Cornwall Spinal Unit in Salisbury. He spent six months there having rehabilitation treatment and trying to come to terms with his injury.
Shortly after his discharge from the spinal unit, David was introduced to the sport of para badminton. David had always been a keen sportsman and seized every opportunity to try wheelchair sports after his injury.
Talking about the impact sport has had on his life, David said: “When I came out of hospital I was introduced to wheelchair badminton, which I fell in love with. It was a real lifeline for me.
“Sport for me now really helps with my fitness, my wellbeing, as well as engaging with people. And I love the social side of things. You need power, speed, agility, strength.”
Although the driver’s insurers initially denied responsibility for David’s accident, Irwin Mitchell secured interim funding to enable him to purchase the right wheelchairs and to attend intensive specialist physiotherapy.
We also secured a personal injury settlement that means he’s able to lead the active and independent life he deserves. He has bought a specially adapted bungalow fitted with the specialist physiotherapy and sports equipment he needs to train to the highest level, including his own hydrotherapy pool.
David received incredible support from his family throughout and, as his interest in para badminton grew, his dad founded the Devon Racqueteers para badminton club with the help of Sharon Hawkins. This has become the largest wheelchair badminton club in England.
He’s gone on to show huge talent for the sport, and with a great deal of determination and hard training, he has progressed to become one of England’s leading players. He now travels the world competing at international level.
“I always want to do better, I always want to train harder and I love the competitiveness and the drive to succeed,” David said.
“I’m currently 13th in the world in wheelchair badminton. I play for England para badminton team. Sport’s what I live for. It shaped the person that I am today.”
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