Hammersmith cyclist

Cyclist who suffered life-threatening brain injury to sit final university exam

A student who suffered a life-threatening brain injury when he was knocked off his bike has defied expectations to sit his final university exams.

Billy Draper-Barr was left fighting for his life when his bicycle and a car, that pulled out in front of him from a side road in Hammersmith, collided. 

The mechanical engineering student at Imperial College London was taken to St Mary’s Hospital and underwent an emergency craniotomy to relieve a bleed on his brain.

Following the collision Billy, of Hammersmith, instructed expert serious injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help him access the specialist care and therapies he requires. 

His legal team at Irwin Mitchell secured an interim payment to fund Billy’s ongoing rehabilitation, including physiotherapy, neuropsychology, occupational therapy as well as speech and language therapy. 

The 22-year-old has continued his recovery, catching up on his studies to sit his final exams. Billy is now applying for jobs, including in Europe. 

In November he also won the Sportsperson of the Year Award at the The Holbein Memorial Awards run by the City & Guilds College Union.

Billy, who was forced to give up rugby because of his injury, won the award for his work with the Imperial College Union Rugby Club in helping support the club and members through the Covid-19 pandemic.

He is now supporting Action for Brain Injury Week as a way of thanking those who have helped him and raising awareness of the support available following injury. 

He said: “I remember seeing a car pull out in front of me and not having time to react and then I was on the ground.

“I still don’t know how I managed it but I crawled to the side of the road, called 999 and the next thing I remember was waking up in hospital after brain surgery. 

“Before the crash I had everything mapped out in front of me.

“I was enjoying university and making great progress in my studies while meeting new friends but then that suddenly all changed. Since then it felt like life was a mix of medical appointments while also trying to come to terms with my injuries but also trying to catch up at university.

“Because of my injuries I thought I might have to give up university and my career and look at different options so it means so much to me to have been able to sit my finals and start looking for jobs.

“I can’t thank enough everyone who’s helped me for all of their support.

“I wouldn’t be in the place where I am now if it wasn’t for them.”

Sarah Griggs, the expert serious injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Billy, said: “Billy suffered truly terrible injuries in the collision which left him facing a very uncertain future. 

“However, because of the great medical care he received and through early access to rehabilitation, Billy has made a remarkable recovery in such a short space of time. 

“Given the severity of his brain injury, that he’s been able to catch up on his course so quickly to be able to sit his final university exams is an achievement in itself.   

“However, Billy continues to face challenges and his case is a vivid reminder of how people can continue to be affected by a brain injury long after the physical wounds have gone.

“It’s great to see Billy’s progress and we’ll keep on supporting him to ensure he can continue to access the specialist rehabilitation and support he requires to maximise his recovery.”

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