Paralysed man from Romford on path for a career as a counsellor

AN INSPIRATIONAL man who was left paralysed after a rugby accident is gearing up for a career helping others who have been through similar experiences after graduating from University.

Kevin Hartie from Lawrence Road, Romford graduated a few weeks ago from the University Of East London with a MSC in Pyschology at a ceremony at the Barbican Centre in London.

Kevin said: “For me to graduate from University is a massive achievement because when I first had the accident I never thought that I would be doing any thing like this.

“I would love to be a counsellor because I want to be able to use my experiences to help others.”

Kevin, 34 applied to do the degree about a year ago after returning from a skiing trip with The Back-Up Trust, a charity that helps people suffering from spinal injuries.

He also signed up as a mentor for the charity helping people who have been through similar accidents and is hoping to use his degree to become a counsellor.

Kevin said: “The skiing trip was life changing because it took me out of my comfort zone and challenged me to do something that people in wheelchairs do not normally do.

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“I am getting on with my life and I think it shows other people who have had similar accidents that life is not over just because you are in a wheelchair.

“I have had a serious accident but I am lucky because I still have my life.”

In February 2000, Kevin who had a successful career as a management consultant made headlines when he broke his neck playing rugby for Campion RC.

The accident left him paralysed from the waist down and facing the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

After spending three months in the intensive care unit at Oldhchurch Hospital, Kevin spent seven months rehabilitating at a centre in Buckinghamshire.

When he came out of the clinic Kevin moved in with his parents in Hornchurch before moving out a few years later.

He is now able to live independently on his own in the community.

He said: “The best advice is to try and look at the positive things in life and to take each day as it comes.

“At first it was very difficult but then I had to try to look for something more positive that can help me to get on with my life.

“I would like to thank my family and everyone in the community who has been supportive and offered financial help to me.”