The incredible George Robinson story

How people responded to the neck injury suffered by 17-year-old George Robinson from England represents all that is good about the South African rugby community.

George Robinson, a 17-year-old rugby player from Stamford School, Lincolnshire, England, suffered a spinal neck injury during a rugby match against DF Malan in Cape Town while on tour in South Africa on Monday, 27 July. He was operated on and has been cared for in the intensive care unit at the Melomed Private Hospital in Bellville, Cape Town, where he has been for the past 37 days.  He is due to be repatriated to the UK by Air Ambulance on Wednesday 2 September.

Below is the statement issued on behalf of the family by George’s father, Simon.

“We understand that George’s experience has touched many people’s hearts.  It has been a life-changing experience and injury for George and our family and we are returning home to start the next part of our journey.

“George is a fun, popular and a charming young man who excels at school as a senior school prefect. He’s academic, a talented actor and an all-round sportsman. He is very close to his younger brother Edward and all of his family.

“He is demonstrating immense strength of character, determination and adaptability, and we as parents are extremely proud and in awe of him. His ambitions of completing his final year at school and attending University remain unchanged.

“George has responded positively to therapy after such a significant injury and there has been daily improvement in his condition; he is very close to being fully weaned off the ventilator that has been assisting his breathing for the past 37 days.

“As we close the South African chapter of his recovery, we want to warmly convey our heartfelt thanks for the touching support that has been given to George during this early phase of his recovery. We have so many thank yous to convey, George has received incredible care, love and compassion whilst here in South Africa.

“Being in a foreign country could have been very daunting, and despite challenging moments, we’ve always felt help was there if needed, it’s wonderful and reassuring how a community is united in a moment like this.

“We would like to sincerely thank the rugby community of Chris Burger/Petro Jackson Fund and the English Rugby Football Union who have demonstrated sensitivity and loyal support. We also want to convey our appreciation to the amazing parents, teachers and pupils of DF Malan School who have been magnificent in their generosity and compassion.

“The use of a car was generously donated, with no questions asked from Mr Lucas de Beer, Land Rover N1 City, this gave us the flexibility and independence to be with George around the clock.

“We feel very fortunate that George has been cared for by such incredible medical professionals at the Melomed Hospital. George’s exceptional surgeon Dr Liebenberg and operating team who reconstructed George’s broken vertebrae, the wonderful nurses, incredible physios and all of the medical support team whose caring spirit and expertise would make any blue chip company proud.

“We have a dear thank you to Dr Roelofse, George’s doctor, and his amazing family with whom we feel a serendipitous connection. His own personal journey is a victory over adversity and has helped him make a deep connection with George. His generosity, human touch and precious expertise has overseen this complex medical case.

“George is a strong-willed and intelligent young man who is adapting to this next phase of his life after his spinal injury.  There are certain moments in all our lives that define us, this is one of those moments for us.

“We know that we have a long journey ahead and we will harness the inspiring goodwill, love and positive energy sent to George through the wonderful people in Cape Town and back at home in the UK.  George has an incredible story to tell and we will move into this next chapter with positivity, determination and hopefulness.”