A little over four years ago, Reece Clarke’s Dad was told his son may never walk or talk again. Doctors prepared the family for the worst and warned that the then 19-year-old could remain in a vegetative state for the remainder of his life if he did not show improvements within the two to three weeks following the car accident in which he was a passenger.
Despite the warnings though, Reece’s parents Stephen and Wendy promised themselves and their son that his condition would improve and he would be able to enjoy as much as possible of the life that he had previously envisaged. Now, four years and two months after the accident, in which former Special Constable, Reece, sustained lifelong brain injuries, he has regained some speech and is able to walk with assistance.
He is determined to walk on his own and even looks forward to the day that he can start running again – an activity he enjoyed prior to the collision. The remarkable recovery has encouraged Reece’s Dad to share their experience in the hope that it will give strength to other families in similar circumstances.
“My message to other families who face similar experiences is to never give up and never take no for an answer.” said Dad Stephen, who is better known to his friends as Tubby. “We faced all sorts of difficulties and barriers that you just don’t imagine – from a lack of available speech therapy through the NHS to planning permission objections for the house conversion. At every stage, we did whatever we had to and, until Wendy’s death, we worked as a team to overcome any hurdle that we felt threatened Reece’s recovery in any way.”
The pair, who lost Reece’s Mum Wendy, suddenly and unexpectedly, two years after the accident, attribute a large part of the successful recovery to their solicitor Kimberley Owen of Minster Law. When talking about the experience, Reece said: “She basically gave me my life back.” Dad Stephen, added: “Without Kimberley I wouldn’t have my son at home. She fought for interim payments to help us buy and equip a house to provide him with a suitable home and she took care of everything, so that I could just focus on working on the house and bringing Reece home. It was even more important to have her support after Wendy died, because it was Kimberley who kept me on track with the paperwork, the finances and the things I didn’t previously have to deal with.
“She did much more than I would expect of a solicitor and used her expertise in brain injury to help us understand the medical reports, and use their contents to secure the best possible care and treatment package to ensure that Reece reached his maximum recovery potential. The difference in him now from when he had the accident is incredible, but we still believe he can go further and do more.”
The settlement secured for Reece in July is the largest amount ever secured by personal injury specialists, Minster Law, and is the result of collaborative working with a team of health professionals and support organisations, including Head First who are specialists in assessment and case management for people affected by brain injuries. Assistance was also provided by barristers Gerwyn Samuel of Doughty Street Chambers and Gerard McDermott QC of Outer Temple Chambers.
Solicitor Kimberley Owen, said: “It’s immensely satisfying to see what we have achieved for Reece and to know that he will never want for anything because the package that we secured provides lifelong security and support. From close communication with his Dad, I know that one of the main concerns was ensuring that Reece would be looked after if and when something happened to Tubby and he now has that peace of mind. My one wish would be to see Reece walk again unaided, and I truly hope that he can achieve that. I’m sure that the family will stay in touch and I’ll be privileged enough to witness that amazing achievement if it happens. Having spent almost four years working with the family and spending so much time with them, I like to think that achieving their settlement is the start of something, rather than the end.”
Reece is now looking forward to starting a career in property management with the help of his Dad – a self-employed builder. Having learnt a lot about converting homes for disabled residents, Tubby is also hoping to focus his business in this area of work.