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George’s Story

“A Time I Don’t Remember, But Will Never Forget.”

George’s Story
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“I do recall one statistic from hospital – 90% of people don’t wake up after six weeks from a coma after sustaining my injury, I woke up after seven,” says George.

He had already made history at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games by excelling in two different sports, clinching silver in the men’s PTS5 triathlon and a bronze in the C4 cycling road time trial. Yet, his triumphs also represented the 1,000th medal for Great Britain and Northern Ireland since the advent of National Lottery funding (since National Lottery funding was introduced into the sport).

As a double European medallist, George has a track record of producing outstanding performances when the stakes are high. Yet, it was off the competitive track where he would face his greatest challenge. On 1st October 2022, the day before his 27th birthday, George was completing a cycling training session just 200 meters from his parents’ home in Saffron Walden. During his final sprint, something caused him to lose control of his bike, catapulting him over the handlebars and headfirst into the ground, leaving him unconscious and in urgent need of medical attention.

George’s parents, Teresa and David, were among the first to arrive at the scene. “No one knows what caused him to come off his bike,” said Teresa. “He was bleeding and unconscious with road rash down the side of his face – fortunately in the recovery position. I immediately called the emergency services, who responded quickly and provided calm and reassuring support.”

Upon landing in a nearby field, Pre-hospital Care Doctor, Dr. Anna and Critical Care Paramedic Jake assessed George and decided he should be transported to Addenbrooke’s Hospital by road.

Reflecting on the incident during a recent base visit with George and his parents, Dr Anna said: “I was really focused on taking over his breathing because we know that preventing secondary brain injury is one of the best things we can do for him, plus it gives us better control over his blood pressure. Once the tube was in and we could monitor the numbers, we had the situation under control. When we were lifting him, I noticed the tattoo on his arm (the Paralympic symbol). That moment really stuck with me – having an athlete on a ventilator is not something we see every day.”

 

George had suffered a severe brain injury. He spent 49 days in a coma and a total of six months in the hospital, where he experienced what felt like an extended, albeit “surreal dream”. But on Friday 13th of January 2023, which George now calls his “resurrection day,” he was filled with vivid emotions and a renewed sense of life.

As he navigated the challenges of his recovery, an unexpected morale boost came from comedian Jimmy Carr, who he had seen live days before the accident. Jimmy responded to George’s Mum at the show after requesting audience members to message in for a “shout out”. Carr’s many video calls with George not only brought laughter but also a gentle reminder of the world waiting for him outside the hospital.

Amidst the highs and lows of his rehab and recovery, George credits his athletic discipline and the values instilled by his parents.

“I do think being an athlete prepared me not just physically but mentally. I’m so thankful my mum and dad drove me to get involved in sports and helped shape the mindset I have today.”

While George still has a long way to go, he’s defied the odds and is now back in training, yet he continues raising awareness of his story, putting focus on the charities, sponsors, friends and family that have supported him.

“It really shows how many nice people there are in the world. If I can give any advice to people going through anything similar, it’s to lean on people when you need to, but be there for others. If anyone’s feeling low, reach out – I’m always here to help someone else going through a down day.”

Through a JustGiving site set up following his accident and other initiatives, like the #ForGeorge pink headbands sold by sports apparel brand HUUB, he has raised nearly £20,000 over the past year. The majority of the funds will be distributed between Essex & Herts Air Ambulance and the Matt Hampson Foundation.

“They say you should live like a heartbeat. Let the highs be high, and the lows be low! Don’t ever flatline. That’s what I try to do. I have no idea how I’m rehabbing so well and how I survived the accident – it’s massive. I want to say thank you to all the people who have helped me get my life back.”

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