Injured Police officer Lewis Pluck
My life changed in an instant when my car hit black ice and skidded off the road. My wife and baby daughter were fast asleep at home blissfully unaware that I was trapped in the car with a broken neck and had just been paralysed below the chest.
Everything slowed down. It happened in a matter of seconds but I could feel the car losing control and staring to flip. I knew it wasn’t going to end very nicely. I had a seatbelt on but I could tell by the way I was breathing that something was majorly wrong and I couldn’t move my arms and legs.
After emergency surgery to fix my spine in place, I suffered various complications and infections. I was in hospital for almost a year recovering, but also because I couldn’t go home – it wasn’t suitable for me anymore. So not only was I trying to accept spending the rest of my life in a wheelchair, but also losing my family home – a home I had spent years investing in and making our own. But I was clinging to the hope of returning to the job I loved – being a police officer.
Although now an injured police officer, I was determined to put on my uniform, go into my police station, and get back to protecting the public. But after spending a second second stint in hospital, and suffering complications, it became clear to me that trying to manage my disability and fitting in a meaningful day’s work wouldn’t leave me with much quality of life.
On the day my retirement was finalised I was back in hospital again.
The Police Dependants Trust were lovely. As well as supporting other injured police officers and their families, they and my local Benevolent Fund moved us into a specially adapted house with wide doorways, open plan rooms and even a lift. I’ll always remember the first time I was able to tuck my daughter up in bed again. The Trust have also funded an accessible kitchen with special worktops and cupboards that I can reach. It means I have a quality of life that in my darkest days didn’t think was possible.
I sometimes wonder about how things would have been without the Police Dependants’ Trust to tell you the truth it still makes me sad. I wouldn’t have been able to get to our bedroom, access the garden, or even have a proper bathroom. The only option would have been to convert the garage into a bedroom, but I really don’t know how we could have afforded it.
Thanks to the Police Dependants Trust, things are a bit better. I don’t dwell on what I can’t do, but on what I can do. You quite quickly realise your own problems aren’t as bad as some of the people in spinal units. There are certain things I would like to do; I can’t dress myself on my own because I don’t have the balance or range of movement but I have people in to help me in the morning which is okay. We manage.
Despite being an injured police officer (now ex. officer), in some ways I feel quite fortunate. I see a lot more of my little girl now than I would if I hadn’t had the accident. Yes, she might have had a little brother or sister now but I would have been working to support them and missing out on things like reading them a bedtime story.
Since retiring, I have even been volunteering at her school as a parent reader helping the children learn to read and enjoy books.
I feel I have got to live my whole life in this condition and deal with all the costs associated with being disabled. Disability Living Allowance is some help but as politics and finances change, the support is cut back. The Police Dependants’ Trust makes such a difference to me and my family. Life would be so much harder without that help.
How you can help Lewis and other injured police officers like him