PCA: Walking towards a brighter future

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Photo Credit: Professional Cricketers’ Association

Former wicketkeeper Patterson forever grateful for Professional Cricketers’ Trust support.

Former Ireland international Andrew Patterson is teaching himself to walk again following life-changing surgery in America and has set himself an inspiring target for May 2024.

The former Surrey and Sussex man is aiming to complete a five-kilometre walk at Victoria Park in May 2024, a year after his ground-breaking operation to help raise funds for the Professional Cricketers’ Trust.

Patterson, who was diagnosed with Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia in 2013, was set to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair before he was notified of the world-leading operation to vastly improve mobility and his quality of life.

Emerging through the ranks at Surrey, Patterson made 23 appearances for their second team, however Alec Stewart was the preferred choice with the gloves as Patterson moved to Sussex.

The 48-year-old would go on to play First-Class and List A cricket for the south coast county but the development of a young Matt Prior at Sussex meant opportunities were limited.

The ex-keeper was extremely proud to represent his country 61 times between 1996 and 2002, with his final appearance coming against West Indies A.

‘Patto’s May 5K’ will see Patterson joined on the walk on 5 May 2024 by friends and family, including eldest daughter Ella who helped raise funds for her dad’s operation by running two half-marathons.

In an exclusive interview with the Professional Cricketers’ Trust, Patterson, with the help of daughter Ella, bravely tells his story from diagnosis to operation and the long road of learning how to walk again.

The Professional Cricketers’ Trust provides vital support to past and present cricketers in England and Wales and their immediate families when in desperate need. The charity’s work is all encompassing, whether it be for unforeseen physical or mental needs.

Living with Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia, Patterson is maintaining an intense rehab programme and trains relentlessly for his 5K challenge in May. Thanks to the operation, the dad of three now has a lifetime goal he didn’t think would be possible, walking his daughters down the aisle on their wedding days.

Patterson’s story started in 2011, whilst playing for the MCC, he fell when running between the wickets, resulting in a broken thumb. A seemingly small injury, little did he know at the time, this incident would lead to a serious diagnosis, less than two years later.

Recounting the day he fell and broke his thumb, Patterson recalls playing with his brother, “I remember my brother telling me my balance looked really bad when trying to run between the wickets. Following the fall, I had a few years of going back and forth from hospital and then a consultant said he thought he knew the problem.

“It’s called Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia which is a neurological condition where signals from your brain don’t reach their target and for me it started to affect moving my legs,” said Andrew.

In 2015, Andrew realised that his condition was worsening whilst playing at home with his three children Ella, Brooke and Drew.

“I remember trying to jump on the trampoline with my kids and I was really struggling, I was saying in my head ‘just bounce’ but I couldn’t do it. That’s when I thought ‘oh crap’ it’s really starting to go downhill.”

With support from the Trust and the unbelievable fundraising effort from eldest daughter Ella, who ran two half-marathons, the £70,000 needed for the operation was achieved. The timing was crucial as Patterson’s condition was worsening the window of opportunity for having the operation was closing in.

“I asked him were there any complications to the operation and he said yes, it could paralyse him. But he said he would rather take that chance because he was going to end up there anyway than never take that opportunity. I thought that was very brave of him to do,” said Ella.

On the 26th May 2023, Andrew flew to America to undergo a Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy operation to provide him with a chance he may not be wheelchair bound for the rest of his life and the hope for the best possible quality of life.

“The way I was progressing, I was going to be in a wheelchair anyway, with the operation I’ve got a chance that I might not be.

“If I’d have left it too much longer I wouldn’t have been able to get the operation, so at that stage we were just trying to think of how to get the money.

“What Ella did was legendary and what the Trust did to help financially was amazing, I was honestly blown away in terms of the amount that they helped,” said Andrew.

Following the surgery, Andrew has been learning how to walk again and is on the long road to recovery.

“The first day after the operation, getting out of bed I was thought oh my god why did I do this. I knew I had to get through the pain to get to where I need to be,” recalled Andrew.

“Dad is the oldest person that has ever had this surgery done but they said he’s the most physically healthy and determined they’ve seen, the physios have been so impressed. I’m very proud, he’s very inspirational,” said Ella.

“My goal is to walk that 5K with Ella and hopefully lots of friends and family will want to join in too. I wouldn’t have been able to have the operation without the help of Ella and the Trust so I’m extremely grateful,” concluded Andrew.

You can donate to Andrew’s Just Giving link by clicking here.

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