Page last updated at 17:10 GMT, Wednesday, 31 March 2010 18:10 UK

Prop Roger Addison dies after paralysis in 1966 game

Roger Addison is helped while in a wheelchair
Roger Addison was left quadriplegic by the accident

A rugby player who had been in hospital for 44 years since breaking his neck in a match has died aged 65.

Roger Addison was a 21-year-old prop for Pontypool when he was left paralysed from the neck down in 1966.

He was taken to Stoke Mandeville Hospital but spent most of his life at Rookwood Hospital in Cardiff.

Describing him as a "wonderful player," his sister Barbara Owen said: "He battled for all that time, but he just couldn't fight any more."

Pontypool were playing an away friendly against Rugby at William Webb Ellis Road when Mr Addison was injured and left quadriplegic.

He is said to have owed his life to the home club's president, a doctor, who resuscitated him on the pitch before he was airlifted to Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire.

Bob Jeremiah, 79, who has been at the club for 40 years, with 25 of them as secretary, visited Mr Addison regularly until a year ago.

The warm welcome for him from Pooler fans was a testimony as to how much he was loved and respected by us all
Pontypool RFC website

He said his friend remained "jolly" and good humoured.

He said: "Roger was told that no person who suffered that type of neck injury lived more than three years, but he was brilliant.

"He couldn't move from the neck down and could only whisper so we had to lip read, but he always asked about Pontypool and the players.

"He was presented with a photograph of the Welsh team who won the Grand Slam in 2005 signed by all the players which he had hung over his bed in hospital.

Roger Addison is visited by Max Boyce
Here with Max Boyce, Mr Addison was also said to have been visited by Richard Burton and Liz Taylor

"He was capped by Wales at youth level against France and I went over with him. He was a good player who had a bright future in the game.

"Though he couldn't move he had a wonderful sense of humour and he once told me he could run faster than a particular Pontypool winger.

"And he joked a few years ago about how he qualified for a bus pass."

Mr Addison has recently been moved to University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.

Tributes have been posted Welsh Rugby Union and Pontypool RFC websites.

Pontypool RFC said: "The club would like to offer their deepest sympathy to his family and to say how proud we are to have been associated with a very brave man in the years that followed this tragic accident.

'Loved and respected'

"Roger enjoyed nothing more than watching Pooler sides over the years at the park and on each occasion the warm welcome for him from Pooler fans was a testimony as to how much he was loved and respected by us all."

Arthur Crane, 62, a Pontypool trustee, visited Mr Addison many times at Rookwood Hospital.

He said: "He would come to the door of Rookwood in his wheelchair, which he guided with his chin. He used to go out in the grounds in the summer months.

"It was a privilege for me to have known Roger. His courage and his outlook on life was an inspiration to others.

Mr Addison had five sisters and a brother, though not all are still alive.

Ms Owen said: "He was a wonderful player and though he was in hospital for 44 years he still kept us all together."

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