Back in the UK after consecutive HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Wellington and Sydney, members of the England Sevens squad recently witnessed an awe inspiring presentation from Henry Fraser.
Henry who was a fit and healthy 17-year-old when a swimming accident left him paralysed from the shoulders down, spoke to the Sevens squad this week and left an immediate impact on the players.
The talk organised through the RPA’s Personal Development Programme (PDP) and their RPA Personal Development Manager, Caroline Guthrie, featured Fraser recalling the moments that changed his live forever. Henry was on holiday in Portugal when he dived into crisp, clear sea water and knocked his head, leaving the 23-year-old paralysed.
He spoke with great clarity and incredible calmness of his recollection of being rescued from the sea, airlifted to hospital, having tubes and bolts inserted into his head and body, and then the moment he was told he would never walk again.
Henry was a promising rugby player as a teenager and hopes his experience and philosophy off the pitch, can be applied by the players on it.
“Accept the situation and adapt, whatever obstacles are there, there is always a way around it” he said.
The England squad have their own key messages around accepting and understanding and RPA Player Representative for England Sevens, Phil Burgess, said Fraser’s talk has proved hugely inspiring.
“We talk about adapting all the time. Henry was saying, you are dealt the hand you are dealt but it is all about how you deal with it. That’s the situation, adapt and get the best out of it. Ultimately that’s what he is doing.
“If you can’t do it, try harder or find something else, it’s not a case of moping around or feeling down. Adapt or change”
Since his accident Henry has constantly defied the odds. He has proved doctors wrong by refusing an electric wheelchair and instead pushes himself around using just his shoulders.
He has also discovered a unique talent – painting. Using just a stylus in his mouth, he has produced works that have sold all over the world and have seen him meet some of the most famous athletes in the UK.
With just six months until England 7s embark on the 2016 Rio Olympics representing Team GB, Burgess believes Fraser’s messages and remarkable resilience can help in their quest to claim gold.
“It’s incredible to think how positive his mind set is and how that psychological edge can be so driving.
“He spoke about those small goals he has had throughout his life to ultimately get to his position now and for us we need to be exactly the same. We need to hit our little processes and goals for every day to be a good day so that when we get in a position in six months’ time we are sitting in a position where we can perform.”
Henry Fraser’s talk was organised through the England Sevens RPA Personal Development Manager Caroline Guthrie. The RPA Personal Development Programme is designed to individually support, guide and assist its members in their personal and professional development, providing them with the opportunity to fulfil their potential and successfully make the transition to a new career following retirement from the game.
Programme initiatives include career exploration, support with education, welfare initiatives and personal and professional development seminars such as today’s talk from Henry. For more information on the Personal Development Programme please contact Richard Bryan on 020 3053 6670 or rbryan@theRPA.co.uk
For more information on Henry Fraser please visit his website by clicking here.