Bob was a sporty 17-year-old about to start an apprenticeship when a summer holiday went disastrously wrong. Here, he shares his limb loss journey and his reasons for becoming a Volunteer Visitor…
In the late 1960s, I was like many young men – busy with friends, sports and on the lookout for a girlfriend. I had just finished school and was about to start an apprenticeship when a friend and I decided to take a last-minute summer holiday to Cornwall on his motorbike.
This decision changed my life. En route, we collided with a tanker, and as the pillion, I sustained serious injuries including severing my femoral artery and losing my right leg. My life was saved due to the quick thinking of an attending police officer, who used a tourniquet to stop the blood loss.
I spent 4 months in the hospital, on lots of pain medication, and eventually went home to start my new life as an amputee. In those days, there was little help, and I had to navigate my own way around finding employment, dealing with body image issues, getting married and raising a family as an amputee.
I first heard about the Volunteer Visitor programme when I came across the LA on social media and then attended one of their hub chats. Attending the hub chats made me realise that by talking to other amputees meant you could share life experiences, find answers to problems, and have a stronger voice together as a group. So, I wanted to give that to other amputees via the VV programme.
The VV training programme was excellent and educated me in things I knew little about – I’m a firm believer that education and knowledge are crucial in life.
Being a VV means I can offer some life experience and reassure newer amputees that yes, life will improve. Peer support is a vital role as there are so many aspects to it. Just being able to chat to another amputee proves the point that a problem shared is a problem halved.
Amputees have empathy with each other straight away. Being a VV has also benefited me – but it has not only done something for me personally but for humanity as a whole.
If you are thinking of applying to become a Volunteer Visitor, do it. This is a great opportunity to be involved in something bigger and to help other amputees.
In the future, I plan to carry on helping the LA achieve its mission by doing whatever I can. I’ve also thought about writing a book about my experiences as an amputee, but for now, I’m enjoying being a VV and helping others like I wish I’d been helped all those years ago.