Man who lost his leg in a car accident says volunteering ‘saved my life’

Cliff Puddy has been volunteering with Healthwatch Somerset for five years.

Cliff Puddy has been volunteering with Healthwatch Somerset for five years. - Credit: Photo by Tim Gander

A former aircraft engineer who lost his leg in a car accident has revealed how volunteering has saved his life.

Cliff Puddy has volunteered with Healthwatch Somerset for the past five years and is now urging others to consider joining him.

Burnham-on-Sea based Cliff lost his leg when he was 33 years old, but after six months in a coma and many more spent in physiotherapy and rehabilitation, he was able to return to work as a Ministry Of Defence aircraft inspector.

Years later when he was working in the United States, Cliff suffered a stroke at the age of 52, which meant he was unable to work due to initial speech problems and mobility issues.

Now aged 75, Cliff feels he has had both good and bad experiences of local health and care services through his ill-health.

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He said: “If it wasn’t for volunteering, I would be sitting in the house staring at the same four walls with no real purpose.

“At one point I was so low I would have taken my own life. “Being able to get out of the house and meet people who treat me as a human being and not a cripple makes all the difference. Volunteering really saved my life.”

MORE: Somerset County Council changes provider of Healthwatch service.

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Healthwatch Somerset has launched a campaign to recruit more volunteers.

A range of roles are on offer; people can visit health and care venues to speak to patients, staff and families about their experiences and also act as an ambassador for the charity at local events and meetings.

Dr Sara Nelson, from Healthwatch Somerset, said: “Volunteers like Cliff are at the heart of everything we do, from talking to people about their experiences of local health and care services, to sitting on the board of directors.

“People can make a real difference to their communities and help to shape their local health and care services.”

All volunteers with Healthwatch Somerset go through a full training and personal development programme.

They are given a comprehensive volunteer handbook and welcome pack, as well as having access to an online volunteer portal with up to date policies and procedures.

Cliff added: “I would recommend volunteering to anyone who wants to help people have their voice heard.”

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