Talk by Henry Fraser

Shell Anish Mehta writes: Last week, we had the honour of hosting a very strong willed and determined man, Henry Fraser. It is not overstating things to say that his talk changed the way many pupils think about health and well-being, as Henry’s life changed forever in a blink of an eye. It is the most inspirational talk I have ever received from anyone and I think that everyone in the room last week was made acutely conscious of the way we take things for granted. The first thing we saw on the screen was the phrase ‘pushing myself’. Henry went on to tell a story that was inspiring, motivational and unbelievable:

Henry had everything going for him. He was an academic high-flyer, a promising rugby player and had a life full of prospects ahead of him. But he was to go on a holiday to Portugal that would change his life forever. Before the trip, all he could think about was the fun he would have.  One day, however, Henry and his friends decided to go to the beach. As soon as he arrived, he ran to the water’s edge and dived forward into the shallow sea, expecting a great feeling. When he landed, dark moments of uncertainty fell upon him. When he came back to full consciousness, he found that he was completely limp. His watched his limbs float helplessly in the water as he waited in despair for a breath of life-giving oxygen. He said that those seconds felt like hours. Fortunately, his friends noticed that he wasn’t moving. They came over to Henry and brought him to shore, asking him if he was alright — he just about managed to say ‘no.’

He was soon airlifted to hospital, where he was told he was now paraplegic. These words devastated him, his family and his friends and over the next eighteen months he would fight to become stronger.  He would train hard every single day with the aim of pushing his own wheelchair out of hospital. Henry did exactly that and five years later he came to St Edward’s to tell his story.

Henry is now working for a Premiership rugby club in their Communications Department. He is also an ambassador for the Matt Hampson Foundation as well as a public speaker. It was also amazing to see Henry’s drawings, which he creates using his mouth to hold the pencil. He told us that the most important factors driving his recovery were: ‘accept and adapt’.


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