Toby Matthews says:

I was working in Southampton as a marine engineer, when a drunk driver drove into me as I was walking along a street. The accident left me with serious brain injuries, broken ribs and a dislocated arm. I was in a coma for a week and in hospital for six months, following which I lost my job, my home and my confidence. My whole life pretty much shut down.

In the three years since then, I have been undertaking speech and occupational therapy to help me regain my communication and life skills. Gradually, as I began to recover from my injuries, I started painting and repairing an old yacht and this activity played a key role in my rehabilitation. When I saw an advert from Cowes Sailability Club, calling for new volunteers, I realised that I felt ready to start working with other people again and could put my knowledge of boats to good use.

Soon after joining the club, I was busy preparing ‘Iris’, the club’s Drascombe longboat, for the new sailing season. I cleaned and oiled her and spent many pleasurable hours varnishing her mast. I’m so proud of how the mast looks now!

Cowes Sailability Club gives me a great opportunity to meet new people and get involved in a marine activity again. My head injury has given me a real understanding of disability that I didn’t have before. I feel really pleased that, by maintaining the club’s boats, I can help make it possible for people with all kinds of disabilities to access and enjoy sailing and boating.

Toby Matthews