Tom Ray is a quadruple amputee with additional facial amputations as a result of sepsis.
Tom was a fit and healthy 38-year-old husband and father when without warning was faced with the onset of sepsis – it took just a day for him to slip into a coma. Every doctor that saw him on admission to hospital missed what were the classic signs of sepsis. They didn’t know what was wrong with him so he was simply put into a side ward, the curtains were closed around him and he was left to die.
Tom Ray remained in the coma for 5 months until he woke up at Addenbrookes in Cambridge with all the amputations and no face, he couldn’t remember who he was & he didn’t recognise his family. He found himself in a completely different millennium and whilst he was in the coma his wife, Nic, had given birth to their son Fred.
As a result of the illness, he lost the business he ran Nic and they had to sell their house and move out. They were down to zero.
Tom Ray had to go through several years of extremely painful facial reconstruction operations to get a cosmetic nose. But the surgeon at the London Hospital gave up in the end – he is the best in the world but he said there was nothing more they could do about his face.
There has been at best modest support from the state since he became disabled. He has just been left to try and survive on wits and resourcefulness. He has been forced to try and find work even though he can hardly manage to look after himself because the benefits system is clumsy and inadequate. Although he has postgraduate qualifications, for the last 16 years he has only been able to manage part time low paid work, but he’s stuck with it to support his family.
Tom and Nic have written a book about their experience called Starfish which has since been made into a film. The film shows how determined Nic and Tom were to stick together when everything and the system was trying to destroy them.
In September 2017, Tom and Nic featured on BBC One’s Panorama. The episode was entitled: Why Mum Died: Britain’s Sepsis Crisis”.
In 2018, Tom Ray was included in the Disability Power 100 list 2018. The Shaw Trust Disability Power 100 List is an annual publication of the 100 most influential disabled people in the UK.
Beating Sepsis, coping with the aftermath & trying to earn enough for his family has been the challenge of his life. Tom Ray had to go right back to the bottom step of the career ladder, he’s been there for over 10 years now and some days can be very painful. However, he is here to tell his story along with his wife Nic and although things have not turned out as they planned and he sometimes looks a shambles they are very proud of who Tom is & what as a couple and individually they have quietly achieved.
If ever there was a story about resilience, beating the odds, dealing with disruption, coping with change, after change, after change, and characterful and courageous leadership, then this is a story definitely worth listening to. No matter what business sector you work in, or what your role is within that business, we are confident that you will leave Tom and Nic’s session, humbled yes, but also inspired, wiser, and with ideas and strategies that will help your business cope with adversity and change.
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