A 22-year-old former Essex Police Special Constable is planning to spend the first Christmas in his adapted home since sustaining life-long brain injuries in a work-related car accident in 2011. Reece Clarke, who spent more than three years in hospital and specialist neuro-rehabilitation centres, is able to start the new year with more independence after an interim payment secured by his legal team made it possible for his property adaptations to be completed.
Reece, who was still a teenager when the accident happened, was left with multiple fractures to his skull, face and ribs and endured serious brain injuries, for which he has undergone a series of treatment and rehabilitation over the past few years. He has spent time in four hospitals and two specialist neurological facilities since 2011.
His most recent care provider, Queen Elizabeth Foundation (QEF) in Banstead, Surrey, has specialist expertise in supporting young adults with acquired brain injuries and Reece has made significant improvements since moving there in October 2013. However, he has frequently expressed a desire to return home.
The Clarke family have been a huge support to Reece throughout the entire care and rehabilitation period, despite also coping with the added tragedy of Reece’s mum, Wendy, unexpectedly passing away late last year. It was important to dad, Stephen, to bring Reece home on the first anniversary of his mum’s death to link the date with a positive memory and honour the support that Wendy gave to her son while alive.
Despite providing care for Reece and his sister Chelsie, builder Stephen undertook the works on the home himself and has worked tirelessly to complete the adaptations, despite setbacks with planning permission. Reece is extremely proud of what his father has achieved and is now able to enjoy the property with his dad and sister, who will be helped by professional carers in supporting Reece’s transition and establishing his new lifestyle.
Although Reece is unlikely to ever be able to take up his Special Constable duties again or achieve his ambitions of becoming a fully-fledged police officer, he is positive about the progress that this year has delivered and is keen to continue rebuilding his life at home.
Dad Stephen said: “As a family, we’ve had a difficult few years; Reece’s mum, Wendy, was devoted to him and her unexpected death at just 50 years of age was a shock to all of us. Family difficulties always seem to hit home harder around Christmas time, and Reece being in a rehabilitation centre without his mum last year was tough, but we’ve stayed positive and worked hard to do everything in our power to get him home.”
“The support from Kimberley Owen at Minster Law has been invaluable and we couldn’t have achieved any of this without her help. With the support of her team, she’s given us the only Christmas present we’d been wishing for.”
Kimberley, who is representing the Clarke family on behalf of Minster Law, said: “Securing an interim payment to ensure that the required special adaptations could be completed to Reece’s home and a care regime be put in place was really important to us. It’s a major element in him being able to start to truly build a new life and establish some normality for himself and his family.
“Wendy was as much a support to the legal team as she was to her son, so we wanted to ensure the family achieved its milestone of Reece moving into his new home on the anniversary of his mum’s untimely death. It’s great to think that they will be able to enjoy a family Christmas in Reece’s new home, even though that will sadly be without Wendy, but our support for the Clarke family doesn’t end here. We’ll continue to work hard to ensure that Reece has everything he needs to live as fulfilled and independent a life as possible.”