A lawyer left paralysed in a diving accident has been elected to help run a charity for people who have suffered serious spinal cord injuries.
Darren Hughes will hold the post of senior vice-chairman of the Spinal Injuries Association, which provides advice and support to those who have been injured and are struggling to cope.
The dad-of-two, who has been a trustee of the charity for the last 13 years, said he was ‘honoured’ to be appointed by the board of trustees and was looking forward to the year ahead.
Darren, from Wrexham, was just 25 years old when he was injured after diving into the shallow end of a swimming pool while on holiday.
The accident left him paralysed from the chest down and he spent six months in a specialist spinal unit as he learned to adapt to life with his injury.
Darren, now 50, said: “I remember when I had my accident. I knew nothing about spinal injury, but the SIA had a peer support worker on the ward who was able to explain everything.
“It’s not just about the injury, but also what happens when you leave hospital and go home. You may need practical as well as emotional support such as adaptations to your house or to enable you to return to work.
“It’s such an important charity and it’s user led, which means the people making the decisions have a spinal cord injury so they understand exactly what you are going through.”
Former military policeman Darren was forced to change his career following the accident. He went on to manage Transhouse, a charity for spinal injury sufferers in Oswestry, before completing a health sciences degree and a degree and a masters in law.
He now works as a personal injury lawyer, specialising in cases where people have suffered injuries like his own at Slater and Gordon, which is a long-time supporter and sponsor of the SIA.
Darren, who is married to Vicky, added: “When a person becomes vice-chair, it’s a much more hands-on role. The SIA provides information, advice and support, but also campaigns for better care on behalf of people with spinal cord injuries.
“It’s such a well-respected charity and to be invited to take up this role is a big honour.
“I am looking forward to it, it’s going to be an exciting year ahead.”
For more information about the Spinal Injuries Association and its work go to spinal.co.uk.