Brave new world for Paratrooper Phillip learning to communicate again after devastating stroke

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A paratrooper who suffered a devastating stroke and lost the ability to talk is learning sign language thanks to his new care home.

Phillip Horne, 48 who served in the Army Air Corps became ill in February 2015.

His most recent forces role was as physical training officer for his squadron.

Phillip had been fit and healthy until suffering a seizure while at a training session to compete in a charity boxing match, which was later found to have been caused by an undiagnosed blood clot.

Doctors said it was Phillip’s healthy lifestyle that saved him that day, but the experience still left him paraplegic and with brain damage that all but destroyed his ability to speak.

Because he needed care Phillip moved to Pennefather Court in Aylesbury, and has lived there for the past year undertaking rehabilitation.

And under the watchful eye of staff he is now learning how to use sign language to communicate, while he waits what doctors say could be eight years for signs of recovery to show.

Staff say that Phillip’s progress has been ‘spectacular’ and he is even hoping to take part in a daring bungee jump which is being organised by the home and his former squad.

His mother has also signed him up for target shooting classes and sessions at the Guttmann Gym to help him improve even more.

The home is run by Sanctuary Supported Living, and it’s local service manager Wendy Porter said: “Philip was very active before the stroke, so he has had a harder time adjusting to his disability than some.

“He’s noticed some changes in his tastes, for example he now prefers sweeter things, and he has found it difficult not really being able to talk, which is why we’ve taught him sign language.

“Nevertheless, his progress at Pennefather Court has been nothing short of spectacular and learning sign language has given him a lot more independence and much greater control over communicating.”

Staff at Pennefather Court have also been inspired by Phillip, in October last year activities coordinator Kya Buckle took part in a 10k endurance race with his former squadmates, including his commanding officer Captain William Holland.