An inspirational speaker, who uses his experience of a life-changing workplace accident to prevent the same happening to others, has been awarded one of the top health and safety gongs by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).
Paul Blanchard, 59, from Gainsborough, has been named an Archangel, the highest honour in the RoSPA Guardian Angel Awards scheme which recognises individuals who go above and beyond to improve the safety of others.
In 2010 Paul fell through a fragile roof light, which left him, at age 55, paralysed from the chest down.
Despite his injuries, he decided that he needed to do what he could to prevent the same happening to someone else, and started telling people about his experience and how it has affected him.
Paul talks from the heart, not only about himself but also about how that fateful Saturday morning has affected his devoted wife.
He wants people to learn from his accident and avoid suffering severe injuries, or worse.
One site he recently visited saw a tenfold increase in near-miss reports following his presentation - showing that he clearly is an inspiration to those who hear his story.
Paul said: “I find it very rewarding and it is part of my recovery and I now have this award which I’m very proud of. It’s the highest honour.
“My talks focus on health and safety, life after an accident and how they can affect your family. They can be heart rendering and thought provoking.
“After my accident I found it very difficult to cope for the first two or three years.
“I had to learn to live with it, not just from a physical sense but mentally and financially.”
Paul received his award from Lord McKenzie of Luton, RoSPA president, and Tom Mullarkey, RoSPA chief executive, during a ceremony at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole.
Mr Mullarkey said: “Accidents in the workplace, as well as on the road, at home and at leisure, can cause huge devastation not only to the lives of those who are injured, but also to their family, friends, colleagues and community.
“Recovering from and coming to terms with such devastation can seem like an impossible task. To go on to share your experiences with others, to prevent them from suffering in the same way, is going beyond the call of duty.
“Paul decided to do just that. Empathy can be a powerful tool in the fight against needless accidents, which has been proven in Paul’s case, and we want to thank him publicly for being exceptionally courageous and selfless in helping to protect others from harm.”