Matt Hampson shares OBE pride with his ‘foundation family’

When Princess Anne presented Matt Hampson with his OBE she was just the latest in a long, long line of people to congratulate him on his remarkable achievements.

By Nick Rennie
Tuesday, 15th February 2022, 2:59 pm
Updated Tuesday, 15th February 2022, 5:25 pm
Matt Hampson and family members at Windsor Castle shortly after he was presented with his OBE by Princess Anne EMN-220215-111540001
Matt Hampson and family members at Windsor Castle shortly after he was presented with his OBE by Princess Anne EMN-220215-111540001

It’s 17 years now since he sustained catastrophic injuries in a scrummaging accident while training with the England Under 21 rugby squad.

A highly promising sporting career was ended in that moment as Matt was left to face life paralysed from the neck down.

Out of adversity, though, Matt found the mental strength to start a charity to support others recovering from serious injury.

The Get Busy Living Centre at Burrough on the Hill EMN-220215-124227001

The Matt Hampson Foundation was launched in 2011 and in December 2017 the Get Busy Living (GBL) Centre opened at Burrough on the Hill as a base where beneficiaries could focus their rehab and access emotional support from others in the same position.

Hundreds of people have benefited from the care and kindness given by Matt’s team and his inspirational work was recognised in the Queen’s New Year Honours List.

After receiving his OBE from the Princess Royal at Windsor Castle, Matt (37) told the Melton Times: “It was quite an occasion, not just for me but for my family as well.

“My mum and dad were obviously quite proud and it was a very special day for them.

Matt Hampson with his OBE at Windsor Castle shortly after being presented with it by Princess Anne EMN-220215-111530001

“It was quite a surreal experience for us all.

“I had some really nice messages afterwards from people from all walks of life.”

Matt, who lives at Cold Overton, is no stranger to members of the Royal family, having been congratulated by Prince Harry on the setting up of the GBL Centre.

Former England rugby captain, Mike Tindall, is the charity’s patron and his wife, Zara, is Princess Anne’s daughter.

Matt Hampson with Mike Tindall, patron of the Matt Hampson Foundation EMN-220215-124352001

Matt said: “I hadn’t actually met Princess Anne before but I know Mike and Zara fairly well so I had that connection and it was quite fitting that she presented it.

“She was lovely, a very nice lady, very down-to-earth and she was interested in the foundation and what I was doing with my life.”

He is very keen to point out that the OBE is reflected glory for the people he works with in the charity, the physios, the trustees and the many support staff.

“The award is a great thing for everyone at the foundation as well, it’s testament to all the hard work that has been going on and the support it’s given with my life as well,” said Matt.

“We are like a big family there and everyone is proud.

New lodges are set to open at the Burrough centre in the spring which will enable beneficiaries to stay overnight with family members.

Matt explained: “This will allow people to stay with us and have a more intensive rehab and they will enjoy views over the lovely Leicestershire countryside while they are here.

“Staff are trialing them at the moment but we hope to have them up and running by the spring.

“Davidsons, who built them, have been really big supporters of the charity and it was brilliant the way people came out of the woodwork to get them built.

“Melton Borough Council’s planning department have been very helpful to us and really we are so fortunate to be based around Melton with all the backing we’ve had from people in the area.”

Up to 40 beneficiaries a week are looked after at the GBL centre - there was a pause during the Covid pandemic but things are now getting back to normal.

“It really hits home every time I go up to the centre how important it is to have this organisation supporting people who are seriously injured,” added Matt.

“It inspires me every day to see people there cracking on and making the best of their lives.

“When I had the dream of starting the foundation I never realised how important it would be.

“It’s absolutely amazing. There is such a great vibe up there. A real sense of community. It’s a very special place and one that I am really proud of.”

Matt was congratulated by many high-profile figures when he received his OBE.

Former England rugby ace and foundation patron, Mike Tindall Tweeted: “Well done buddy, thoroughly deserved for all your hard work, compassion and energy.”

Another ex-England rugby player, and now commentator, Brian Moore, Tweeted: “The biggest congratulations - well deserved. I’m very proud of you.”

Foundation CEO and close friend, Tommy Cawston, commented: “Matt has dedicated his life to helping others in a similar situation to him and this recognition is well-deserved.

“What he’s achieved since his injury is remarkable and here at the foundation we are all really proud of him.”