Balsall Common teenager left paralysed after tree fall in fundraising push - The Coventry Observer

10th Aug, 2022

Balsall Common teenager left paralysed after tree fall in fundraising push

Sarah Mason 22nd May, 2019

A BALSALL Common teenager who has been left paralysed after falling from a tree is fundraising for vital equipment.

Xander Van Der Poll was taking a study break last May when he went on a dog walk in Lavender Hall Park in Balsall Common when he spotted an ancient oak he used to climb up as a youngster.

The medical student at Bristol University clambered up the tree but lost his footing and plunged eight-foot to the ground smashing his back on the exposed roots.

Xander said: “As soon as I landed, I could feel immediately that something was wrong with my legs.

“After six hours in the operating theatre I was told I had a burst fracture of my T12 vertebra and a spinal cord injury that would mean I would be paralysed from the waist down.”

Xander spent six weeks on bed rest, completing his first-year final medical exams in the hospital while lying flat on his back. He then moved on to the Centre for Spinal Injuries in Oswestry, Shopshire, and, subsequently, a programme of therapy in South Africa where he started to explore the world of wheelchair racing.

A JustGiving site has been set up to raise £5,000 to help Xander fully with his medical rehabilitation and training, wheelchair racing, and to afford the necessary modifications and adaptions at home.

So far almost £2,000 has been raised.

A signed and framed Manchester United Football Club shirt worth £500, and a signed and framed Gloucester Rugby Shirt worth £300 are now up for auction by the Solihull fundraisers.

Fundraiser Judi Wood said: “Xander and his family have faced enormous physical, mental and emotional challenges on a daily basis that most of us could never even imagine, yet his determination and faith keep him focused.

“While his body is still able to respond to treatment, he has spent many months in South Africa taking part in a programme of intensive therapy and has also competed in wheelchair racing championships, winning gold, silver and bronze medals.

“While Xander was there he met other young people in a similar position to himself and is determined to help others who have no, or very limited, support.”

On his return to the UK in April this year, fundraisers organised a charity event to kick off the fundraising effort and organiser. Judi added: “The black-tie fundraising ball, known as Wheels on Fire, took place at Chesford Grange and it was a real night to remember.

“Hundreds of Xander’s friends and family came together to raise funds at a spectacular evening of food, live music, entertainment and to dance the night away.”

Bids for the signed shirts with name, address, contact telephone number and amount of bid, or requests for further information, should be sent to info@wheelsonfire.net

The closing date for bids is June 16.

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