Burnley student returns home 13 months after horror accident

Paul Blanchard, with his girlfriend Lauren Pointon and sister Sarah Yankowski, who was seriously injured afrter being knocked down on Parliament Street.
Paul Blanchard, with his girlfriend Lauren Pointon and sister Sarah Yankowski, who was seriously injured afrter being knocked down on Parliament Street.

LIFE will never be the same again for Burnley parents and their family who have spoken for the first time since a road traffic accident left their young son with severe injuries.

Burnley College student Paul Blanchard was just minutes away from home in Russell Court, Burnley Wood, when he was knocked down by a car in Parliament Street on the evening of November 21st, 2011.

The accident left him with severe head injuries and doctors were unsure whether he would survive.

Now, after 13 months in hospital, including time at the specialist head injuries Walton Centre, Liverpool, Paul is back home with his family, who say the next few months are critical on how he progresses in his recovery.

Parents Peter and Beverley said Paul’s accident turned their world upside down. “It is as if life has been put on hold since then, but we are just relieved he is home and slowly but surely progressing.

“It was touch and go for Paul on more than one occasion. It has been a nightmare but we have to stay strong for Paul. We have had so much support from friends, neighbours and the various hospitals and charities,” said his mum.

“At the moment we have to do everything for Paul, but we are hopeful he can keep progressing. The doctors have said how someone is two years after an accident is how they will stay.”

Peter and Beverley lived at the Walton Centre for the first five weeks after the accident, before he was transferred to the Royal Blackburn Hospital.

Paul, a keen basketball fan who dreamed of becoming a fire-fighter before starting a plastering course at college, was born and brought up in Burnley Wood.

He was a popular former Springfield Primary School and Unity College student and pupils sold wristbands to raise money for the family after the accident. Paul’s girlfriend Lauren Pointon sold 500 wristbands which helped to buy him an I-Pad.

Paul now attends Rakehead Rehabilitation Unit at Burnley General Hospital where he is learning to walk again and undergoing speech and language therapy.

Paul’s sister Sarah Yankowski (25) is now planning to run the London Marathon to raise £1,500 for Headway, a brain injuries charity, which paid half of her parents’ accommodation costs in Liverpool.

She has also organised a fund-raising night at Koko’s in Burnley on Saturday, March 30th. If any businesses would like to provide raffle prizes for the night they can contact Sarah on 07874381360.

To sponsor her visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/SarahYankowski.

Sarah said: “Paul and my family have had so much support from Headway and other people, so I wanted to do something to say thank you. I have also been making sock puppets to sell and have already raised £800.”