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‘Heroes’ welcome

Wheelpower Inter Spinal Unit Games. 9th April 2014. Stoke Mandeville Stadium.A clinical support worker who has helped transform the lives of 100s of patients at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust’s National Spinal Injuries Centre (NSIC) has earned a top job at Help for Heroes.  Georgie Friend, from Aylesbury, has been driving sports participation amongst spinal injury patients in her role at Stoke Mandeville Hospital since 2007.

At Help for Heroes, Georgie will be the Health and Physical Wellbeing Advisor working with wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women.  She will be based at the Help for Heroes Recovery Centre in Colchester.

Dot Tussler, head physiotherapist at Buckinghamshire Healthcare, said: “Georgie has been an integral part of the team at NSIC and she will be greatly missed. We are excited for her as she embarks on this new challenge and wish her all the best. Her passion for sport and rehabilitation over the years has helped to shape the care and service we provide to patients and we know that this will continue through our extensive sports programme over the years to come.”

After seven years her last day at the Trust is this Friday (6 June), and looking back there have been many highlights for Georgie.  She said: “The Inter Spinal Unit Games has to be the main highlight every year.”

“But London 2012 and seeing 20 of our ex-patients compete at the Paralympic Games was amazing. Seb Coe’s speech at the opening ceremony made us all feel so proud when he talked about Stoke Mandeville being the birthplace of the Paralympics.”

Sport has been central to Georgie’s work, she leads regular sessions for patients to try sports such as wheelchair basketball with support from WheelPower at neighbouring Stoke Mandeville Stadium.

“I will greatly miss all of the team and patients, and connecting with WheelPower but I’m incredibly excited about the new opportunity. “

Georgie has worked with patients that have achieved great things.  Many patients, under the guidance of Georgie and the team at Buckinghamshire Healthcare, make a dramatic transformation after a traumatic injury or illness to learn the skills to use a wheelchair and live independently in just a few months’ time.

Nikki Emerson from Prestwood was one of Georgie’s patients in 2008 and made the most inspirational transformation. Her rehabilitation allowed her to start a wheelchair racing career and complete the London Marathon just 9 months after a car accident nearly took her life.

Nikki said: “Without Georgie I wouldn’t have had the confidence to get into Paralympic sport. In the years since I left Stoke Mandeville Hospital, she has continued to be a massive support to me in sport and a great friend, and it’s been fantastic to see her have the same positive effect on so many other patients as she had on me.”