The 43-year-old was alone in his truck in Essex on November 23, 2021, when he suffered an unexpected brain stem bleed.
His wife, Claire Bateman, rang his work in the morning when she became concerned after Rich didn’t answer his phone.
Later that day, Claire received a phone call notifying her that Rich was found ‘pretty incoherent’ and had been rushed to Basildon University Hospital after the bleed.
"After running loads of tests, they found he had a bleed on the brain stem,” said Claire. “I was just waiting for phone calls – I didn’t know what was happening really,” she said.
"Later that night, I got a call from a doctor who said they weren’t going to transfer him to Queen’s Hospital as the neuro unit said that there was nothing they could do for him. We were told to quickly make our way down to Basildon as there was nothing more they could do for him – they were planning on just making him as comfortable as possible.”
On arrival, Claire found out that Rich had a stroke and was responding to pain, but was unresponsive in terms of opening his eyes, so Rich was left in critical care on a ventilator for two weeks.
Despite the outcome ‘looking bleak’, Rich was stabilised, and although still unresponsive, he was transferred to Sheffield a couple of weeks later to be closer to family.
The next day, Claire visited Rich at Hallamshire Hospital and found him awake with his eyes open.
"He couldn’t remember any of it, nothing at all. From then on, he could communicate by nodding and shaking his head a bit, and doing thumbs up, thumbs down,” she said.
"Whilst in critical care for the next nine weeks the focus was to wean Rich off ventilation, enabling him to breathe for himself.”
Now seven months on, Rich is still on his way to recovery in rehabilitation, undergoing speech and language therapy and physiotherapy – he is making ‘slow and steady progress’.
"He needs to learn to do everything again,” added Claire. “He can make a good recovery but he needs more intense rehabilitation every day.”
Claire describes Rich, who is a huge Sheffield Steelers fan, as ‘the most caring and loving father and husband’.
"Rich is just a very happy guy, hard-working, honest, very reliable and would do anything for absolutely anybody. He’d spend the weekends just with his family and friends – that’s what he lived for,” she said.
"His love for the Steelers started nine years ago. I have been going since being a teenager, and then we took James a couple of times and the both of them we hooked. We then bought tickets for the remainder of that season and have been season ticket holders ever since.
“We go to every away game we can too – he just loves it.”
Claire and the family are now fundraising to support Rich’s recovery and improve his quality of life. Claire says the rehabilitation is ‘very costly’ and so they hope to raise around £50,000 through JustGiving and fundraising activities over upcoming months.
You can donate to Rich here.