Changing lives: still waters run deep at Mary Rose Museum

Back in 1995, 28-year-old Neil Clements was near to completing a demanding course to be a Royal Navy Parachute Instructor. He was a fit young man; a self-confessed ‘adrenalin junkie’. Then in a split second his life changed for ever.

Embarking on a routine jump, Neil’s newly-purchased parachute failed to open and he crashed 400 feet to the ground, landing in the middle of a football pitch. He miraculously survived the impact of his fall but received life-changing injuries: a broken neck, pelvis, leg and back and severe damage to the back of his skull. Doctors anticipated him being in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

Twenty-three years on and after much hard work and intensive physiotherapy, Neil is an invaluable volunteer at the National Lottery-supported Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth.  He can now walk short distances and has embraced opportunities through its outreach and volunteering programme. 

[quote=Neil Clements, Mary Rose Museum volunteer]"I’d like to thank National Lottery players for helping me recover."[/quote]

Neil’s role at the Museum includes meeting visitors and showing them a range of objects that were perfectly preserved on the 500-year-old sunken Mary Rose. He credits his time there as helping him get back his life, albeit a very different one to his days as a Royal Navy Petty Officer: “My favourite role is working on the handling table where you can actually touch a piece of the Mary Rose. Working at the Museum has helped me improve my social and communication skills, I can speak a lot more clearly to the public who visit.”

Neil is a popular volunteer and member of the Mary Rose team.  An inspiration to all who meet him, he says: “The Mary Rose was brought up from the deep and I’d like to thank National Lottery players for helping me recover and come up from the deep too.”

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