AN INSPIRATIONAL Solihull footballer who defied death aged 15 and had to learn to walk and talk again has been honoured with an MBE.
A surgeon once said of Charlie Fogarty, now aged 21: “Flippin heck, you defy science – you should be dead.”
Now he has been named in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List for services to young people in Solihull.
He was rushed to the trauma unit at Birmingham Children’s’ Hospital after being hit by a car in 2012, when his neuro-surgeon first looked at his papers and expressed his amazement at his patient’s miraculous survival.
Now Charlie says he was overwhelmed when the letter arrived telling him he had been chosen for the prestigious honour.
He told the Solihull Observer: “It has just been excellent, everyone has been so kind and I can’t quite believe it.
“People are saying to me things like, ‘It’s great that somebody not already a celebrity, like yourself, is being noticed for the work you do’.
“I have always believed that hard work, dedication, commitment and trying is the key achieving.”
Before the accident, Charlie had all he’d wished for. He was a member of the Birmingham City Football Club youth academy and had already represented Northern Ireland at various age groups.
But all that changed in the blink of an eye and he was in a coma for four months.
He then spent six months at a hospital in Surrey learning to walk, talk, dress and eat again.
His mum Sarah did not leave his side and his dad Mark gave up his job at Coventry City Football Club to help care for him.
Mark said: “It goes without saying that to get an award of this magnitude at Charlie’s age is unheard of but at the same time we, as parents, are so proud of him.”
With determination which continues to amaze the medical professionals, football has played a large part in Charlie’s long uphill road to recovery – both on and off the pitch.
Charlie set up and became the player-manager of the open-age disability team at Solihull Moors Football Club. He also returned to international football and played for Northern Ireland at the Cerebral Palsy World Cup.
Off the pitch, driven to make use of his new-found confidence, Charlie gave his first ‘Anything Is Possible’ speech at Wigan Athletic Football Club Academy.
Now an established inspirational speaker, he delivers this message to other football clubs nationally, as well as schools and hospitals.
He has also won the Sports Solihull Disabled Sportsman of the Year award and the High Sheriff County award for Inspiring Others, after being nominated by the Mayor of Solihull.
Solihull Moors said in a statement: “From all your friends at Solihull Moors – Well done mate.
“Academy and under-21 players cannot help but be inspired by his courage and humour.
“This honour which has now been bestowed on Charlie will not change him one jot – he will continue to inspire everyone who has the pleasure of meeting him.”