On 19 April 2023, Kara Smith and Alexandra Bennett attended the launch of an exciting new project pioneered by the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) with the support of Formula One constructor Williams Racing. In the presence of their patron, HRH The Princess Royal, the SIA launched the Frank Williams Academy, which aims to transform the lives of spinal cord injured people through education, training, research and development. 

In order the establish the Academy, the SIA are aiming to raise £1.5m during its early years. This funding will be used to help educate and train those affected by spinal cord injury and healthcare professionals to ensure safe, appropriate care is provided.

Sir Frank Williams, founder and long-time team principal of the Williams Formula One team, sustained a spinal cord injury as a result of a road traffic accident in 1986. The support provided to him by the SIA was integral both to his recovery and his return to work.

Claire Williams, Sir Frank’s daughter and vice president of the SIA says: “My father lived the most extraordinary life, not least as one of the most successful team principals in the history of the sport and doing so from a wheelchair as a tetraplegic for the greater part of it. His tenacity in the face of adversity was just one of the many things that made him such an inspiration to many while he was alive.

Following his death, I wanted to do something to continue that legacy, and the Frank Williams Academy couldn’t be a more fitting tribute. The work that the Academy will do will provide potentially life-changing care for spinal cord injured people, just as the SIA did for my dad. With that support, the bounds of possibility are endless.”

Alexandra Bennett, Legal Director in the Clinical Negligence team at Stewarts, says: “It was a privilege to be invited by the SIA to the launch of this fantastic project with Claire Williams, who spoke inspirationally about her father and the work of the SIA. The Frank Williams Academy will transform the lives of those who have suffered a spinal cord injury by providing specialist education to all those involved in their care, in order to maximise their recovery, maintain their life-long health and to enable them to achieve their ambitions.

Many of Stewarts’ clients have suffered life-changing injuries as a result of a spinal cord injury, and through our work with the SIA we understand how essential it is for them to receive specialist care and rehabilitation throughout their lives.”


Goals of the Frank Williams Academy

The Academy is built around four pillars, and the SIA pledges to set about change in relation to those four pillars as summarised below:

  1. Educating spinal cord injured people. The SIA pledges that, through information and training, the Academy will empower those with spinal cord injuries to take control of decisions that affect their lives.
  2. Educating health and care professionals. The SIA pledges that, through education and training, the Academy will equip health and care professionals with the expertise to enable them to deliver safe and appropriate care.
  3. Research and development for better care and support. The SIA pledges that, through user-led research and development, the Academy will give those with a spinal cord injury a voice to influence and improve training and education.
  4. Building evidence to influence change. The SIA pledges that the Academy will champion best practice, raise national standards and build an evidence base to influence long-term transformational change.

Learn more and donate to the Frank Williams Academy here.



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