Ed Jackson’s rugby career ended suddenly at age 28 when he broke his neck after diving into the shallow end of a swimming pool. The former Bath, Wasps and Dragons No 8 was left quadriplegic, with the best he could hope for being enough functionality in his arms to control a wheelchair.
More than five years on, he is up on his feet and climbing mountains for his charity, Millimetres2Mountains.org, and others. He has also carved out a successful career as a public speaker and television presenter on Channel 4.
What was your first job?
My first real job was as a rugby player, straight out of school. It was a dream come true, as a 16-year-old basically playing PE for the rest of your life. I think my first contract was £13,000, which wasn’t much looking back, but as we were training every day and didn’t have many outgoings it felt a lot.
Were you still living at home?
No. My dad kicked me straight out. He’s very much a “you’ve got to make your own way” type of guy. However, he owned a place which I and three other rugby players at Bath shared. And he actually charged me £100 more a month in rent than my friends, which I thought was child abuse at the time! That was the Yorkshireman in him.
Did you have a ‘Plan B’ if rugby didn’t work out?
About five years into my career quite a few of my peers were having to retire through injury and the players association encouraged me to think about a post-rugby career.
Reluctantly, I did a degree in leadership and management, which I ended up really enjoying. It helped my rugby, providing a distraction from the sport. It also kept me more level headed, as rugby can be a roller coaster, with all the highs and lows of selections, injuries, contracts and so on.
When I finished the degree I spoke to friends. One, who was in insurance and commercial property, seemed to be having the most fun and was always on the golf course. So I did a Masters in real estate finance, with a view to going into commercial property.
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