Beating barriers to return to work

AFTER laying unconscious in a ditch for five hours, awaiting rescue following a car accident, Martin Grimmer was lucky to be alive. Left with severe injuries despite months of hospital care, Martin faced one of the biggest challenges – rebuilding his life

AFTER laying unconscious in a ditch for five hours, awaiting rescue following a car accident, Martin Grimmer was lucky to be alive.

Left with severe injuries despite months of hospital care, Martin faced one of the biggest challenges - rebuilding his life, becoming self-reliant and returning to work.

Years later, the 36-year-old has done just that. Now his story forms part of a new book called Overcoming Barriers.

Martin's life forms one of the six personal stories about people who have overcome severe disabilities to find work again, with the help of The Papworth Trust.


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Martin, from Wisbech, who was a builder, nearly died in 1994 when his car ended up in a dyke off a fen road. He had been driving home from work in St Neots when his car left the A47 between Thorney and Guyhirn. As he was not wearing a seatbelt, he was thrown from the car into a field.

His problems at that time had only just started. As the ditch was so low it was out of the vision of passing motorists. Martin lay unconscious for five hours before he was found, and when he was discovered his injuries were terrible - he suffered severe head injuries after being flung through the windscreen.

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Martin was on a life-support machine for three weeks and in hospital for six months before he was discharged in a wheelchair.

After years of rehabilitation sessions, he was back walking and was referred to the Papworth Trust and was given a route back into work.

The trust suggested a three-week trial placement at a tree and plant nursery called Choice Landscapes. Today he works there and now walks and drives.

"The Papworth Trust has been in regular touch since I started. As I wasn't so interested in growing the plants, we've been able to arrange for me to become more involved in the building and maintenance side of the business. It's the little things they do that make a difference. Papworth organised the taxi for me to get to and from work before I was able to use my car again."

He added: "I would really love to be able to run again some day. Considering I have got this far when the doctors said I might not walk again, who's to say I won't achieve that goal too?

The other stories are of Beth Wilson, from Cambridge, who has learning difficulties but now works in a cafe in the city, and Jose Witchell, who was forced to give up her job because of arthritis in her spine, hip and knee but has now become a trainee manager with Marks & Spencer.

INFORMATION: Overcoming Barriers is published by the Papworth Trust Employment Service. It can be ordered for £7.99 from bookshops. Some free copies can be ordered from freephone 0800 952 5000, by e-mailing employment@papworth.org.uk or downloaded from www.papworth.org.uk. It is also available as an audio file from the web site and can be ordered as a CD.

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