DUBAI // A veteran rugby player and referee who was paralysed in an accident during a match is determined that one day he will run on to a playing field again.
Briton Trevor Stott-Briggs, 63, was unable to use his legs or hands after he suffered spinal injuries when a scrum collapsed on top of him while he was playing for the Arabian Potbellies team in Sharjah in February last year.
Now, after spinal surgery at Abu Dhabi's Al Noor hospital and many months of intensive physiotherapy at the Rochester clinic in Dubai, he can stand unaided.
He still uses a wheelchair but can walk with a frame or crutches - and he is determined that his recovery will go much further.
"I was bedridden, I couldn't move, but I'll walk normally again," he said. "I want to run on to a rugby pitch and referee. If you believe you're going to walk again, you'll walk again.
"You've just got to say you can do it, you've got to push yourself, there is no point being negative. I was always a very active person, so being in a wheelchair drives me crazy. It's a great incentive to get out of it."
He recalls vividly the moment he was injured, as he remained conscious throughout.
"I had one of those out-of-body experiences where I could see myself. I was up in the air and could see myself fall slowly on to my back flat on the floor."
Rugby clubs and organisations in the UAE and other countries have rallied round to support Mr Stott-Briggs by collecting cash to help pay his Dh30,000-a-month physiotherapy bills.
The latest donation - a cheque for Dh18,200 given by members of the Dubai Exiles Rugby Club - was handed over at the Sevens stadium yesterday.
"This latest contribution came right out of the blue, they phoned and said they'd collected all this money. I was flabbergasted.
"This has taught me how brilliant the rugby community is. All the clubs in the UAE have contributed something - I could not have afforded the physio I've had on my own money."
The father-of-four works in Abu Dhabi as a business development manager for Orascom Construction Industries, which kept him on after the accident. He drives a converted car, and after more than a year living at the Rochester clinic he has now moved into the family's home in Dubai.
His wife Agnes said: "It's been really hard, a roller coaster. When the accident happened I was devastated, but I could not cry. He was taken to a hospital in Sharjah and the doctors told me there was a really, really slim chance that maybe he would regain movement in his hands, but there was no chance for his legs.
"But Trevor said, 'No, I will recover'. He stayed positive all the time, and I think that's half the battle.
"Every time I see him get up from the chair and walk it inspires me, it gives me strength, I feel proud."