Paul Kerr’s career in the Armed Forces spanned more than two decades. During that time, he rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, carried out several tours across Europe and beyond, and was commended twice for outstanding service.
However, it was a decade after his Service when his life would change forever. While helping his elderly neighbours by trimming a garden hedge along a slope, Paul lost his balance and fell 20 feet off a ladder onto the concrete below.
Devastating spinal injuries meant he would never walk again. Nothing would ever be the same, but Paul was determined to maintain his independence and we were there to support him.
The accident shattered Paul’s idyllic and peaceful retirement in Dunoon and given the fact that he was now confined to a wheelchair, the upstairs bathroom and narrow doorways of his home meant the house was sadly no longer suitable for him. So, changes kept coming.
He received help to find a ground-floor flat in Glasgow in an apartment block where other veterans reside. The space is set up perfectly to deal with Paul’s needs.
The same determined focus that earned Paul military promotion and outstanding service commendations helped him adapt to the restrictions that his disability has caused him, but that does not mean he didn’t require some help along the way. While on holiday, Paul noticed several people using wheelchairs with self-propelling wheels.
“It seemed effortless how they moved themselves along. I thought that would be good for me. So, when I got back, I made enquiries and was eventually put in touch with Poppyscotland. The first thing they did was pay for an Occupational Therapy assessment and report. Thereafter, they contributed funding for the power-assisted wheels for my wheelchair. These wheels cost thousands of pounds, so it would have taken me years to get that sort of money together.”
Paul admits that during his time in he didn’t know anything about us. He adds: “Before I moved back to Scotland in 2010, I had never even heard of Poppyscotland. I did not know what the charity did beyond selling poppies, so it was great to find out that they can help veterans like me.”
And after the help he has received, Paul has a message for fellow veterans who may be in search of support or a helping hand: