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Ex-paratrooper learns new language following life-changing stroke

9 February 2017

A paratrooper who served tours of duty in numerous countries has marked his first year at a residential care home in Aylesbury, following a stroke that left him paraplegic.

Phillip Horne learns new language

In February 2015, Phillip Horne was the paragon of fitness; a physical training instructor in the Army Air Corps’ Squadron 678, he was tasked with training the troops in a role that often took him overseas.

That changed in an instant while watching a charity boxing match when he experienced a seizure from an undiagnosed blood clot.

Were it not for his exceptional level of fitness at the time, it was unlikely Phillip would have survived. However, the experience still left him paraplegic and with brain damage that nearly completely destroyed his ability to talk.

When given the choice of where to rehabilitate, Phillip – who was based in Milton Keynes – chose Sanctuary Supported Living’s (SSL) Pennefather Court in nearby Aylesbury as his first choice.

Since arriving in February 2016, Phillip has received 24-hour care from staff at the home to help him with day-to-day tasks such as washing, dressing and eating.

Phillip’s injuries are so severe that it will take at least eight years before any potential recovery from them will show – though even then, there are no promises.

Despite only being able to communicate by saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ during the early days of his time at Pennefather Court, Phillip has since been learning sign language with the help of SSL care staff, which has allowed him to once more express his thoughts, feelings, wants and needs.

As a result, he has started attending a disability-friendly shooting club in Leighton Buzzard. He will be trying out for a place on the Disability Shooting Great Britain team ahead of the British Open in February.

Staff haven’t been afraid to go the extra mile for Phillip either, with plans being made to help the former paratrooper tick one item off his own personal bucket list: a bungee jump currently being organised by SSL staff and his former squad.

And in October last year, activities co-ordinator Kya Buckle took part in a 10k endurance race with Phillip’s former squadmates, including his commanding officer Captain William Holland, and successfully completed the event despite not having had time to carry out any training ahead of the race.

SSL local service manager Wendy Porter said: “Phillip was very active before the stroke, so he has had a harder time adjusting to his disability than some.

“He’s noticed some changes in his tastes, for example – he now prefers sweeter things – and he has found it difficult not really being able to talk, which is why we’ve taught him sign language.

Nevertheless, his progress at Pennefather Court has been nothing short of spectacular and learning sign language has given him a lot more independence and much greater control over communicating.

Wendy Porter, SSL Service Manager

“Nevertheless, his progress at Pennefather Court has been nothing short of spectacular and learning sign language has given him a lot more independence and much greater control when communicating

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