A BUILDING accident which left a carpenter paralysed from the neck down has inspired a school to fundraise for the charity that helped him. Chris Holmes, 31, was hit and knocked over by a heavy piece of plywood in November while working on a roof at Longs
A BUILDING accident which left a carpenter paralysed from the neck down has inspired a school to fundraise for the charity that helped him.
Chris Holmes, 31, was hit and knocked over by a heavy piece of plywood in November while working on a roof at Longsands College, St Neots.
The wood, weighing 35 kilograms, was blown by a gust of wind. It hit Mr Holmes on the head, he fell backwards and was knocked unconscious.
He has two broken vertebrae at the top of his spine and is being treated in the spinal injuries unit at Northern General Hospital in Sheffield.
His distraught wife Trudy said her family had nowhere to turn for help until they were advised to contact the Lighthouse Club, a charity which helps injured construction workers.
Last week pupils at Sawtry Community College, where Chris's stepson Jake is a pupil, devoted three days to raising awareness and funds for the charity.
To raise money pupils threw wet sponges at teachers, pushed custard pies in faces, held an XBox tournament and a cake sale and collected old mobile phones for the charity.
Jake, 15, told The Hunts Post: "When the Government assess you for adapting your house they assess your income on two years ago - but two years ago my stepfather was working and we had two salaries coming in. We contacted the Lighthouse Club and they sent us a cheque straight away to help us pay household bills."
The charity helped Mr Holmes, his wife, stepsons Jake and Sam Mitchell, 20, and the couple's daughter, Bethany, 13, with advice and financial support.
Mr Holmes can move his head and shrug his shoulders but he has no use of his arms, hands or legs. His family, who live in Folksworth, are currently fundraising to buy him a specially adapted wheelchair, which will cost £6,500.
Mrs Holmes, 46, said: "He remains mainly positive. He adores his family and his biggest concern is how we are all going to cope.
"The accident was a complete shock and for a while I don't think he understood what had happened to him. He says: 'I accept that I am never going to walk again' and would just be happy to regain the use of his hands.
"We hope he will be out of hospital in eight months but it depends on his strength.
"Chris was always so active. He used to ride a motorbike and was a real action man. We always thought if something was going to happen to him it would be on the bike, not at work."
Mrs Holmes is a local government officer whose wage is above the payment threshold to receive benefits. She said the Lighthouse Club provided support times were at their darkest.
"I didn't know how I was going to pay the mortgage and the bills because he was self-employed. We were in a big black dark tunnel and there seemed to be no light at the end of it.
"For the first 48 hours, which the surgeon said would be crucial, we didn't know whether we would lose him. The Lighthouse Club gave us a lot of practical help."
Mrs Holmes created a PowerPoint presentation for the Sawtry school to explain what had happened to her family and how the charity helped.
She added: "It's an amazing the things the pupils are doing to help - they have all put so much energy and enthusiasm into it."
INFORMATION: Fundraising events to help Chris Holmes continue. There is a charity golf day at Thorpe Wood on July 11 and a dinner dance on Friday, August 29. Both events are sold out. Contact the Lighthouse Club on 01473 231831 or see www.lighthouseclub.org.uk