As part of Erb’s Palsy Awareness Week 2020, our Head of Clinical Negligence, James Thompson, talks about his longstanding relationship with the Erb’s Palsy Group.
How did you get involved with the EPG?
I was lucky enough to have been trained by Cathie Delaney who is a specialist clinical negligence solicitor and former Midwife when she was the go to Solicitor for the EPG. What Cathie did not know about Erb’s cases was not worth knowing. I learnt so much from Cathie and the families she had helped over the decades.
As Cathie took a step back from the law I took over the running of her cases and was introduced to the EPG and their trustees. Over the years we have got to know, like and trust each other and I am very fortunate that as a result I have seen my practice and expertise grow.
What does the EPG mean to you?
I have huge admiration and respect for the kids and their families. I never cease to be amazed by the courage, determination and achievements of those who have suffered an Erb’s injury. They don’t let it hold them back, they dig deep and make the most out of life. They have the most supportive of families who go above and beyond to make sure their child is not held back by what can be a catastrophic injury.
It is a honour to become part of the team that supports these children. I remember attending EPG family fun days with Cathie and then on my own and meeting families she had acted for and seeing the impact she had had. To see how the children had grown, prospered and what a difference she had made was something that made me proud of her and made me want to be able help kids in the same way.
Many of the people I have acted for in my life have had catastrophic injuries which has resulted in their cognition being significantly impaired and limiting their life expectancy. Whilst I have formed close ties with their families it is not the same as when I get to know and converse with a child who I then see grow and fulfil their potential as they get older. Likewise when I represent older Claimants who may be in their late teens or even an adult, it creates a different type of bond which comes with the responsibility which derives from being their lawyer.
Each case is a legacy of which I aim to conclude so that I can be proud of the result. I’m lucky in that my job can allow me to make a difference. Hopefully as we all get older my kids can meet their kids, though at that point I doubt they will be interested in the parts we have played in each other’s lives and will be more interested in the sweets and entertainment which are in abundance at family fun days!
How does it feel to be recognised by the EPG as a specialist Erb’s Palsy solicitor?
To have the trust and endorsement of the EPG weighs heavy. I want to do my best for all of my clients and at times this takes a huge amount of resources. Thankfully, I have a team of solicitors upon whom I can rely to support me and I have a number of very experienced and senior solicitors who can also conduct cases for EPG families in their own right.
We are a close knit team who support each other. This year has shown more than any other how important it is to have those around you upon who you can rely to get through the tough times. We still have some way to go before we get through the current crisis, but I am confident that we will and I’m grateful for the faith placed in us by the EPG.
Which has been the most memorable EPG event?
It’s a tough one, the Ball was fantastic and one I hope will be repeated not before long.
Meeting Giraffa was a high and we have remained firm friends since. I look forward to our reunions.
The family fun day last year was also a great success. The size and scale of the event set an impressive record, but records are there to be beaten and it is such a shame that this year’s event could not take place, (especially as it was so much closer to be in the North).
Organising these events and the running of the EPG from the Erb’s Blurb to the information leaflets is a massive undertaking and it is only possible due to the blood sweat and tears of the trustees and supporters of the charity. Being a trustee is often a thankless task, but without those who sacrifice their own time for the greater good we would be a poorer, divided and less informed society.
My lasts comments in this article are to express my thanks to them. There is not enough praise that I can heap upon them for what they do. Rather, I will simply commit to continue to try to do better for them and their families, to push boundaries and to get better results in all that we do as lawyers and supporters of the EPG.