Paul’s Amazing Journey from Brain Injury to Academic Achievement In April 2010 Paul McDermott suffered a severe brain injury and also sustained serious injuries including a punctured lung, internal bleeding at the spleen, bleeding on the brain and broken ribs. He remained in a coma for eight days. He said “I have no memory of this but I’m sure it would have been traumatic for my family at the time.” During his rehabilitation period he worked with his Occupational Therapist, Dolores, and about ten months later he was referred to The Cedar Foundation. Paul said: “When I first started with Cedar they supported me by showing me ways to control agitation and anger. I was also attending doctors quite regularly where it was decided that due to the extreme injuries to my ribs, that a change in career would be beneficial as they cautioned me against heavy labour, i.e. motor vehicle mechanic.” Cedar worked with Paul, using this information, to develop an action plan which mapped out his plans to return to the education system. Cedar supported Paul to increase his weekly activity to build stamina and to complete practice modules in English and Maths to refresh his writing and learning skills. Paul added: “At the start there were many days the classes were cut short due to me getting over stimulated. But a few months down the line we came to a decision, for at the time I still wanted to be involved in the motor trade, that the route to go was to return to college to do a business studies course in the hopes of starting my own business doing vehicle diagnostics.” He continued: “Cedar supported me during my 2 years at North West Regional College where I completed an extended diploma in Business Studies. I then exceeded even my own expectations by completing the course with the equivalent of 3 A star A-level grades and the equivalent of 3 C grade GCSE’s in English, Maths and IT.” Whilst completing this course Paul attained the following awards; Regional finalist for FSB (Future Student of Business) in 2011 Winner of Essential Skills Learner for Derry/Londonderry 2013 Winner of Essential Skills Learner for Northern Ireland 2013 Highly Commended in the National BTEC Awards 2013: Outstanding BTEC Business and Enterprise Student Category Northern Ireland Vocational Qualification Learner of the year, 2013 finalist Due to the excellent marks Paul had achieved he was encouraged into furthering his education with a university degree. He said: “I thought about this and decided that I would apply but apply to start the summer of September 2014. So, I applied to a few universities to do Law as I had thoroughly enjoyed the subject whilst completing the business studies course, due to the marks I had received I had been accepted to all the courses I applied for. Cedar then helped me prepare for university, helping me get all the support I needed throughout the degree. I finished the law degree with a second-class honour’s degree in Law in December 2016 and started with Price Waterhouse Coopers shortly after. Now 16 months down the line I’m working for one of the fastest growing financial service firms in Northern Irelend, Fintru. Thinking back I would never have got to where I am without the support of Cedar.” Cedar’s Inclusion Works programme is part funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund (ESF) 2014-2020, the Department for the Economy and all five local Health and Social Care Trusts. It is available to those 16+ who have a physical or sensory disability, brain injury, diagnosis of ASD or a long-term health condition. When people leave our service they move on to paid work, volunteering, further/higher education, training programmes and community activities in their local area. If you would like to find out more please visit our Inclusion Works page. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.