Volunteer of the month, December 2012: Richard Spencer

Richard (left) with a mentee
33 years ago a car accident left Richard with a C5 –C6 spinal injury.

"I was 27, married with 3 young children, and had my own plumbing business. During rehab my wife left. I got divorced and was granted custody of two of my children.

I had many challenges ahead; coming to terms with my injury, divorce, selling my house and business, but most of all supporting and bringing up my children as a single parent with such a high level of injury. I was determined to prove that I could do it, and I succeeded. I now have wonderful grandchildren too.”

Richard has been a steadfast Back Up mentor for three years, supporting several people who were struggling to adjust. “I wanted to give something back to others going through a similar life changing situation. Years ago there was no support. Now things have changed so much. Back Up really does change people’s perceptions. It’s just as important to adjust to the psychological trauma as well as the physical trauma, both for the individual and their relatives.”

Richard was one of our first power chair skills trainers. He provided fantastic support to another power chair user on our ‘skills for independence’ course. Richard also trained as one of our outreach and awareness volunteers, and put his skills into practice the very next day! Stuart, outreach and support coordinator, said: “Richard always takes time out to speak to people individually. He always has a smile on his face and is a great role model.”

Richard consistently goes above and beyond the call of duty in countless ways. Justin, mentoring coordinator, said: “Richard is the kind of volunteer that can be approached about anything and is always so willing to help if he can.”

Richard says; “I feel privileged to be part of Back Up and its amazing team of volunteers.”