“Ainsley is a remarkably positive and optimistic character despite such a challenging few years. His sunny outlook is contagious and he truly is one in a million.
I joined Irwin Mitchell over seven years ago, and specialise in spinal cord injury claims. What makes this job so great is the people. Being able to lead a client and their family through a terrible time and reach a positive resolution is so rewarding.
Ainsley was involved in a road traffic collision which left him paralysed from the waist down and needing a wheelchair for the rest of his life. I first met him in the major trauma centre. He was still in shock and couldn’t comprehend that he wouldn’t be able to walk again. He was concerned about his future.
We spoke about his life before and his aspirations, and had some really honest and difficult conversations. We took things slowly and went through the legal options, how to pursue a case and what it might look like moving forward. Every time you meet a client and their family in hospital, it’s important to be as supportive and helpful as possible and give them time to get their head around what has happened. Luckily Ainsley had an amazing family and partner and together, we guided him through the early days.
When Ainsley was discharged from hospital, he lived at his Mum’s house, where they converted the garage into a bedroom and wet room. He then moved into an accessible flat with his girlfriend, Lauren, but it still had its limitations. He was carrying a lot of anger and frustration, and started to not want to go outside, or use his wheelchair.
The thought of being active again made Ainsley more positive, so we moved him into a property which had a swimming pool and a gym. This was great for his rehabilitation and brought a smile back to his face. Knowing how much Ainsley loved sport, I put him in contact with some of my friends at the spinal charities and he got involved in adaptive rowing, which he loved. The rowing club were super-supportive and now has two boats for disabled people.
Securing the interim payments for Ainsley was crucial and meant he could fund access to physiotherapy and adaptive equipment. Then, three years after his injury, the case was settled at a joint settlement meeting. I was absolutely delighted for Ainsley and his family. He could now move on with his life, knowing that he would have access to what he needed for the future. It felt like a weight had lifted off his shoulders and we were all so relieved. We met for a coffee two weeks later, and it had only just begun to sink in for Ainsley - I’ll never forget how happy he was that day.
After Ainsley’s case, a personal highlight was doing the expert witness training day for the Spinal Injuries Association. I asked Ainsley to do a section explaining how it felt to be the claimant involved in litigation. It was the first time I’d ever heard him talk about his legal journey, and hearing him articulate how grateful he was to me and my team was heart-warming. Especially as there were some tricky aspects of the case we had to navigate together. Knowing that I’ve helped turn Ainsley’s confusion into confidence means so much - that’s the human touch that mattered to me.
I’m still in contact with Ainsley and he’s doing so well. He’s purchased and is adapting his own property with his fiancé. When he told me they were getting married in Portugal in May, I was delighted for both of them.
It really is wonderful to see the progress Ainsley has made and I’m proud to have played a small part in his journey. Despite everything he’s been through, he is still one of life’s positive people. His sunny outlook is contagious and he truly is one in a million.”
Cathy Leech is a partner in our serious injury team and specialises in supporting clients with spinal cord injuries. As part of our human touch campaign, she’s shared what it’s like to work with and support clients like Ainsley.
Learn more about serious injury claims
Meet Cathy Leech
Read more about Ainsley’s story