Inspirational Rob Camm Signs Up For Great Bristol Half

Entries for the Simplyhealth Great Bristol Half Marathon are open. Enter at:

A rugby player who was left paralysed from the neck down following a car crash has signed up to take part in this year’s Simplyhealth Great Bristol Half Marathon with the help of a specialist off-road wheelchair.

Rob Camm, from Breadstone in Gloucestershire, suffered life-changing injuries when he was involved in a car crash, just a week before starting university in 2013.

The high-level C3 spinal injury left him tetraplegic, with no movement from the neck down and reliant on the use of a ventilator to breathe. Rob spent almost 100 days in the intensive care unit at the Frenchay Hospital in Bristol before being transferred to a specialist spinal unit in Salisbury to start his rehabilitation.

Since then, Rob has never let his disability hold him back and has dedicated a significant amount of his time to raising tens of thousands for SpecialEffect, a charity that has provided technology and support to help him adjust to life after his accident.

On Sunday 23 September, Rob will take on the Simplyhealth Great Bristol Half Marathon accompanied by a team of ten. He will be aided by the Extreme X8 all-terrain wheelchair that he controls with his chin.

Rob, who has recently received a first-class honours degree at the University of Bristol, was in the city to launch his challenge and to visit the Yogscast headquarters, a popular online gaming channel which supports SpecialEffect.

Rob, 24, said: “I have always wanted to take on a half marathon so I thought why not? I wanted to do something different and I am fairly sure that my chair can do the distance – the challenge is can I?

“13.1 miles is further than I have ever driven continuously so there will be some considerable strain on my neck to control the chair for 2 ½ hours or so – I need to train like everyone else.

“The key thing for me is keeping busy. I want to keep pushing boundaries and pushing what I can do.

“I do nowhere near as many physical challenges as I used to and it is a huge thing for me to have the opportunity to take on this kind of a challenge again

“My Dad is joining me and has never run a tenth of that distance in the past 30 yers so it will be a challenge for all of us but in a lot of different ways.”

Rob was joined by members of his team, who will also support him during the 13.1 miles this Autumn, as well as Dr Mick Donegan, the founder and CEO of SpecialEffect.

Rob first received help from SpecialEffect when they arranged to go into hospital to assess him for an eye-gaze control system.

Rob started using the eye gaze control system from his hospital bed, which tracks his eye movement where a blink is like the click of a mouse. He started using this for accessing social media, keeping up with friends, playing online games and checking the rugby scores.

Thanks to the use of technology provided by SpecialEffect such as speech recognition and head movement to control the computer, Rob was able to start his degree at the University of Bristol just one year after his accident.

After graduating, Rob started a Law conversion course at the University of Law and is already looking ahead to his next challenge at the Simplyhealth Great Bristol Half Marathon.

The event features over 10,000 runners who will take on the half marathon challenge through the awe-inspiring surroundings of Bristol, passing under the Clifton Suspension Bridge and along the Avon Gorge.

Rob added: “I met the charity when I was in ICU and they have completely changed my life.

“Using the gaze control system was the first thing I was able to do for myself since my accident. It was a huge thing to realise I didn’t have to rely on everyone for absolutely everything.

“I’d never have believed that I’d have been able to start university just a year after my accident.

“I did the majority of my work myself on the computer using Dragon Naturally Speaking and Smart Nav where a dot on my cap moves the mouse and my voice commands do the rest.

“All of this equipment was initially made available to me through SpecialEffect on a laptop that they loaned me while I was still in hospital. The charity has been fantastic in helping me reconnect with the world and I wanted to give something back.

“They had a huge impact on me and by raising money for them I hope to enable them to help more people like me.” Dr Mick Donegan added: “Rob’s been a fantastic inspiration both for ourselves and for many people with high spinal injuries.

“It’s been an honour to have been involved with him and his family for so many years, and we’ll be cheering him on during his half-marathon. He’s a truly remarkable individual with an incredible support team.”

To support Rob’s fundraising, visit: 

Entries for the Simplyhealth Great Bristol Half Marathon are open. Enter at: