A North-East gym founded by a former champion athlete has become the first regional partner for the award-winning Matt Hampson Foundation, a national charity supporting young people seriously injured through sport.
Matt Hampson has been paralysed from the neck down and breathing via the aid of a ventilator since an accident during an England Under-21 rugby training session in 2005, but rather than lament what he’d lost, he instead decided to focus on the things he could still do and to ‘get busy living’.
The former Leicester Tigers prop forward established the Matt Hampson Foundation to offer specialist support, advice and treatment for anyone suffering serious injury or disability from participation in sporting activity. The Foundation’s Get Busy Living Centre opened in Leicestershire in 2018, offering expert physiotherapy and specialised personal training alongside wellbeing support and health advice.
Now Matt, who was awarded an OBE in 2021 in recognition of his achievements, has created a link with Gym Possible in North Tyneside as the Foundation’s first satellite hub, helping to reach out and support even more young people in more parts of the country.
Gym Possible founder Drew Graham has first-hand experience of life-changing injury and the need for suitable facilities and support following a spinal cord injury in 2014 in the United States where he had been an elite middle-distance runner.
A national collegiate champion with Adams State University and an Olympic trials competitor, Drew started rehabilitation from his accident in Colorado but was unable to find suitable facilities when he returned home to the North-East of England and knew that an affordable, accessible gym for wheelchair users like himself was needed.
Drew started the Pop-Up Gym as a charity and wheelchair accessible facility in 2016, when he also first encountered Matt and the Foundation. The project evolved from there and is now known as Gym Possible, located on off Whitley Road in Benton, close to both Newcastle city centre and the A19 for the Tyne Tunnel.
Gym Possible is open seven days a week with the aim of making exercise physically and financially accessible to people with physical disabilities. Members can use the facilities at any time, with the option of booking physiotherapy and personal trainer sessions.
Gym Possible founder Drew Graham and Tommy Cawston, chief executive of the Matt Hampson Foundation, at the new satellite hub in Newcastle.
“One consistent factor on our journey has been the continued support from the
Matt Hampson Foundation,” said Drew, who was part of a Gym Possible team that participated in the Great North Run last month, helping to raise awareness and valuable funds for the gym and the Foundation.
“The help and guidance from Matt and Foundation chief executive Tommy Cawston have been second to none and have allowed us to evolve into the gym we are today. We are now overjoyed to be welcomed into the Matt Hampson Foundation as a
Get Busy Living satellite venue.
“We will remain in the North-East, where our members need us, but to know that the Foundation is with us every step of the way gives us the confidence to move into
the future with the clarity and focus necessary to provide the accessible exercise services so desperately needed.”
Launching the new Foundation hub, Matt Hampson OBE said: “We have an outstanding facility at the Get Busy Living Centre, but we appreciate that not everyone is able to come to see us regularly from all parts of the country. So, as well as planning to extend our facilities here at the Centre, we want to take our support further afield and I’m delighted to welcome Gym Possible on board as a new northern hub, our first satellite link.
“It is important that continued support is available to everyone, and Drew and the team at Gym Possible do a great job in making exercise and activity accessible to all. We look forward to working very closely with them, offering more support to more young people affected by life-changing injury.”