Graham Seaholme’s story
Up to 2012, I was a fit strong young man. I had a good job in IT, was a martial arts instructor (at a high level, I trained the army), and my passion was wildlife photography. Some of it was quite extreme, and I won awards for my work.
In June 2012, at the Henley Regatta, I was driven over from behind by a big 4*4 while walking along a crowded bridge. Both legs went under the car’s wheels, as I had no chance to avoid the crash. The driver didn’t stop, but the police monitoring the crowds stopped her, and found she was over the alcohol limit, with 5 children in her car!
Luckily, there were also St John’s Ambulance people there. I had tried to get up, but collapsed. The police had feared I would be dead, but all the damage was to my feet, which were crushed. Both legs were put in casts, and I was in a wheelchair until they re-set.
After 3 months the casts were removed, and then I had to learn to walk again. However, my legs had wasted away, and I was terrified I might not manage it. For the next few months, I manoeuvred myself around downstairs using my upper body strength because I still couldn’t stand up.
I did rehab, physio and hydro therapy, at the hospital. The hospital suggested I should make an injury claim. Initially I resisted, as it seemed so American; but the hospital explained I would need help for the rest of my life. I’d never done this before, so I went for the first firm I saw on Google, without doing any research. Surely it was a simple claim, no one was contesting liability.
Quickly the claim became contentious, and the solicitor was uncontactable. I was just a number, not a person, they did not remember my details when I called, and after 6 months they started to get very defensive. So, I researched alternatives, because I wanted to be treated fairly. I contacted Helen Clifford’s firm, and that first call was a turning point.
Within 2 to 3 weeks Helen arranged for me to have Physio, specialist treatments, and accessories to improve my quality of life. All the specialists were top in their fields.
The British court system makes you feel like a criminal, you feel you have to prove you’re not scammimg someone. The emotional pressure is unreal, and I was having panic attacks caused by the stress. It dominated my life for 2 years, but Helen could always settle me. She was always there for me, even when I was in tears.
Helen dealt with the Defendants, who were rude and aggressive. They didn’t see me as a person, all they saw was the money. On settlement day I was exhausted and would have stopped, to get a life back. Helen and her QC were amazing; they wouldn’t back down, and in June 2015 the case was settled.
I was lost for 6 months after the settlement, no longer talking to Helen every day. But we’ve stayed in touch, and I count her as friend. Without Helen I’d have given up a year after the accident, because I couldn’t cope with the pressure. But whenever I’d had enough, Helen would pick me up with her empathy and dedication.
Helen is an angel, a rare breed, empathetic, good humoured, and available 24/7 for you. I told her she works too hard. I must have asked her the same questions a million times, and she’s never been impatient. She always responds. Helen helps people like me in need: makes us feel safe, comfortable, and supported.
Because of my injuries, I’ve had to give up the martial arts, but I still work in IT; it’s a sedentary life now, but not a bad life, it’s different, I make the most of what I can do. One chapter closed, and I’m writing a new one. I’m even starting photography again.
Just before the accident, I had entered the Sony Wildlife Photographer Of The Year competition, and came third! I had been due to meet David Attenborough but the accident prevented that. But, after the accident I got a lovely letter from Sir David with a copy of my photograph, signed by him. That might not have happened if I hadn’t been run over.
I couldn’t do without Helen, I’d walk on hot coals for her, to try to thank her, to repay her. She’s my hero, always will be, until I die.