I’ve never looked back since my life-changing injury

Rugby huddle

Jim Taylor volunteers to support rugby players who have life-changing injuries 

18th June 2018 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

It wasn’t until I was in the ambulance I realised something had gone very wrong. It was 1978, I was 23, and that day my life changed forever.

I was playing rugby for Kelvinside Academicals against Old Aloysians when the scrum collapsed and I broke my neck.

As a result it left me unable to walk but in truth I’ve never looked back with regret. Life has to be lived and since that day I've lived life the best I can.

My saviour has been rugby – the sport I’ve always loved. I might not be able to play it but it hasn’t stopped me getting involved: I work for Glasgow Warriors and I’m also an ambassador for the rugby charity Hearts and Balls. This involves giving support to other players who have suffered life-changing injuries like myself.

Over the years I’ve realised the competitive spirit among sports players plays a significant part in their recovery.  They have a drive to challenge their disability and are usually very mentally tough. The psychological aspect can be every bit as debilitating as the physical and requires just as much care and attention. And we have to realise that these people need a lot of support.

This is what I do at Hearts and Balls and if I can inspire others then my job is worth it. Having a life-changing injury when you’re young is bad enough but many of these rugby players struggle just as much knowing they’ll never play the game they love again. For many of them rugby is their life.  

I want to prove that life can continue and that disability doesn’t need to hold you back. It can be very hard to accept but the reality is with the right support in place, your life continues much like before.

Over the last 40 years since my injury, I’ve hankered to give something back to say thanks to the rugby community for supporting me. So I came up with the idea for the Hearts and Balls Festival, taking place on 23 June, which will mark 40 years since my injury and raise much needed money for the charity at the same time.

Life can continue; disability doesn’t need to hold you back

The ball takes place at Kelvinside Academy’s Balgray Playing Fields in Glasgow and hundreds are expected to turn up to show their support.  

The work of the charity is incredible but it’s also vital. It gives all types of support but also makes people lives easier through practical help such as supplying lighter wheelchairs not available from the NHS, mobility aids or communication equipment.

In 2015 I was told I had male breast cancer and ended up having a mastectomy. It taught me that no matter how difficult life can get, more challenges can still be thrown at you. But equally in the same year as fighting cancer, I was astonished to be told I’d been awarded an MBE. My first thought is this should go to my wife who has faced my challenges alongside me and never wavered, never complained. I always say the bigger impact of a life-changing illness is often on those closest to you, your family and your friends. We should never forget that. 

Tickets for the Hearts and Balls Festival, A Thank You from Jim Taylor to the Rugby Community, can be purchsed here