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Sunday, 26 October 2014

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Paralysed rugby player from Carlisle walks again after eight weeks

A veteran rugby player who was told he may never walk again is back on his feet just two months after breaking his neck during a match.

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Barry Scott with Creighton Rugby Club vice captain Ste Whyte and his son Wylie, Barry’s wife Sue and Kathryn Osborne

Barry Scott, 55, was initially paralysed down one side and spent weeks at a specialist hospital confined to a bed or wheelchair.

But the grandfather, who has played rugby for more than 30 years, stunned family, teammates and doctors with the extent of his progress now he is walking again.

Now friends are setting out on their own physical challenge to raise money for the charity that has supported him and his family.

Barry, of Dunmail Drive, Carlisle, broke his neck while playing for Carlisle’s Creighton Rugby Club in a second team match away at Annan on November 16.

He was taken to hospital in Dumfries then a specialist spinal unit at Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital, where metal plates were inserted into his neck. It affected his right side and although some feeling came back, doctors told him he might never walk again.

But Barry was determined he would, focusing on his daughter Rachel’s wedding later this year and vowing he would be there to walk her down the aisle.

“The doctors didn’t promise anything. They just said we’d have to see how it went,” said Barry, who was out of bed and starting physiotherapy a few days after surgery. I kept saying to Rachel; ‘I will walk you down the aisle’.

“In the end everything happened quite fast. Every day there was a bit of progress. One day I was going to the gym in a wheelchair, then coming back on crutches. Then it was a walking stick. I was determined, but I wouldn’t have had any chance if the nerves had been damaged.”

The father-of-two who also has two grandchildren – eight-year-old Ethan and Oscar, 10 months , puts a lot of his progress down to Creighton’s sports therapist Kathryn Osborne, who was at the match when he was injured. She took control of the situation, making sure Barry stayed calm and didn’t move to avoid any further damage.

His wife Sue said they owe her a great deal: “She didn’t save his life as such but she saved his quality of life.”

Kathryn said: “I wasn’t even supposed to be at the game that day.

“I usually do the first team games. I’ve been doing this for years and never seen an injury like it. When I went up to see him in hospital it was quite emotional.”

Kathryn now wants to support the RFU Injured Players Foundation, which has helped Barry and his family.

She is putting together a team of players and friends to join the gruelling Total Warrior challenge in August – which she and Barry both completed last year.

Rachel is also hoping to take part in the event – a tough 10k assault course featuring mud, water and fire, near Penrith.

Although Barry can’t compete, he will be there as the team photographer.

Kathryn is determined to rope in as many players as possible, even putting together a training regime to get them in shape. They include Creighton vice captain Ste Whyte, who admitted signing up with wife Nicola under duress.

“I’m not a natural runner but it’s the best way I can think of to say thank you for what they have done for Barry,” he said.

Ste was also there when Barry had his accident and is amazed at how quickly he has progressed.

“Considering where he was it’s absolutely unbelievable to see him now,” he said. “When I used to visit him I can admit that I’d have a cry afterwards because at that point we just didn’t know.”

Although he has been allowed home, Barry still has some movement problems and doesn’t know if he will ever recover fully. He is waiting for physiotherapy at the Reiver House rehabilitation centre in Carlisle.

“Glasgow did everything they could for me but I’m still weak,” he explained.

“I was in hospital for eight weeks in total. It’s good to be home but it’s also emotional when you reflect on the people still there.

“It’s not very often that people walk out of that place.

“I do still have dark days where I wonder if I’ll ever get any better. But it’s not going to come back on its own. You have to work for it. That’s what I try and focus on.”

As well as messages of support from other rugby teams, Barry and his family also received a £500 donation from rivals Annan following a fundraising night.

To support the Total Warrior team visit www.justgiving/creightonrufc

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