Laurence Sweeney

Laurence Sweeney, 19, was only in his fifth week of basic training with the RAF when a car accident left him fighting for his life.

Laurence Sweeney

Laurence Sweeney, 19, was only in his fifth week of basic training with the RAF when a car accident left him fighting for his life.

Laurence, who was a passenger in the car at the time of the accident, spent two weeks in a coma and many more months recovering from injuries to his brain, spine and hip, initially at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford and later at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

When he was moved to the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court he and his family, who are from Wolverhampton, were able to stay at SSAFA’s nearby Norton House.

He said: “Headley Court was in Surrey, a four-hour drive from where my family live, so the only way they were able to see me was when they came down to stay at Norton House.

“I was at Headley Court for a long time and it could get quite sad there on weekends when the only people left were the people who couldn’t go home. Norton House is just a great facility because even those people who were in wheelchairs and couldn’t go home could still go and stay there and spend time with their families. It was absolutely brilliant.

“I moved up to Stanford Hall for a bit when the facility moved and my mum was also able to stay at the new Norton House there. She said it was just lovely a place.”

Laurence joined the RAF in March 2018 shortly after his 18th birthday and was training as a Regiment Gunner.  He said: "I was in the cadets from the age of 13 so it was a real natural progression for me to join the RAF. I have always wanted to do something positive with my life. I am being medically discharged but hope to reapply in 2021. I have scar tissue on my brain but so far I haven’t had any seizures and I’m thanking my lucky stars.”

Laurence marked his 19th birthday by raising £225 for SSAFA through Facebook. He said: “Raising some money for SSAFA is the least I can do. I'd like to thank everyone working with SSAFA for making this horrible time bearable for me and my loved ones.”