A disabled student whose life was torn apart after a serious car accident left him wheelchair-bound has beaten the odds to graduate from Edge Hill University.

The 27-year-old from St Helens has overcome extremely challenging personal circumstances to gain a 2.2 in his Law degree.

Simon was enjoying a successful career in engineering until the fateful day on 5th February 2006 when he was involved in a car smash. It left him with such severe spinal injuries that he was in hospital for a year, receiving treatment and intensive rehabilitation and he is now a permanent wheelchair-user. 

When Simon came out of hospital, he quickly realised that he wanted to get back to work. He had previously thought about law as a career in his teens and because his engineering dreams were in tatters he enrolled on a twelve week Fastrack course in law as a taster.

Less than 18 months after his accident he enrolled as a first-year Law student and graduates today, which is an amazing achievement given the huge changes that had taken place in his life.

Simon said: “The accident changed my life. I could no longer use my hands so I knew I’d have to do something with my head instead, which is why I decided to go back into education. As a new wheelchair user I didn’t know what to expect or what I would be capable of, but Edge Hill University has given much support and they recommended the Fastrack course to give me a taste of law. I really liked it so I went on to do my degree in the subject.

“When I first started at university I thought that people would stare at me for being in a wheelchair but it wasn’t like that at all. In fact, it brought me back to life and I’ve made some really good friends, the whole student experience was great.”

Simon has also contributed to university life as he has been an effective course representative and has campaigned for better security on campus.  He’s participated in events and meetings so that the student voice can be heard.  

Not forgetting his engineering background, in true entrepreneurial spirit he has designed three items that could benefit the lives of disabled people.  His prototype design for a quadra-cycle incorporates unique controls which enables users with limited dexterity to be more independent, it is currently being developed further at Lancaster University. He has also developed specialised active controls, suitable to be fitted to almost any vehicle, and a folding shower chair which is currently being worked on at the University of Bolton. Currently, adapting a car with hand controls can cost up £70,000.00 – Simon’s invention could revolutionise personal transport opportunities for disabled people.  St Helens Chamber of Commerce have backed these ventures and provided funding to get the process started.

Although very modest about his achievements, he said: “I know the many difficulties that wheelchair users face and I’m glad that I’ve been able to use my other skills to come up with inventions that could benefit the lives of others.”

After graduation Simon is starting a Bar Professional Training Course at Manchester Metropolitan University.  His ultimate aim is to become a Barrister himself and use his own experience and insight to represent other people with spinal injuries.