Prime Minister Boris Johnson has praised paralysed former rugby player, Matt Hampson, after awarding him a special honour to recognise his work in starting a foundation which supports others who are recovering from life-changing injuries.
Matt (34), of Cold Overton, has been given a Points of Light award which recognises UK people who are outstanding individual volunteers and who are making a change in their community.
He suffered paralysis from the neck down following a training ground injury with the England Under 21 squad in 2005.
The former Leicester Tigers and England Under-21 player who launched the Matt Hampson Foundation in 2011 and a year ago the charity opened the Get Busy Living Centre rehabilitation facility at Burrough on the Hill.
In a personal letter to Matt, the Prime Minister wrote: “I know you do this with no thought of praise or reward, but allow me to offer my own recognition of the strength you have shown in setting up the ‘Matt Hampson Foundation’, inspiring others to overcome adversity and to enjoy the sports they love.
“As we come to the conclusion of the Rugby World Cup, I also pay tribute to everything you do to promote this wonderful game, codified on the fields of our country and enjoyed by so many.”
Reacting to the award, Matt said: “It is an absolute honour to receive the Points of Light award from the Prime Minister.
“I feel the award is not just for me, it recognises all the great work of our team and beneficiaries at the Matt Hampson Foundation.”
Matt has been determined to see his accident as a new beginning, rather than as an end, and says he set up the charity to mentor and offer hope to other young people with similar injuries and disabilities, providing them with a support network to share knowledge and experiences, and getting them back into sport via the rehabilitation centre.
Matt also coaches youth rugby, is an ambassador for both the RFU’s injured Players Fund and for Restart, The Professional Rugby Association’s charity, and he also fundraises for spinal research.