Frank Gardner looks at life after trauma

Frank Gardner and Stuart Butchart Frank Gardner was helped after the shooting by an email from Dr Stuart Butchart

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Frank Gardner reflects on the reporting assignment that left him part-paralysed in a new series of programmes for Radio 4.

The BBC security correspondent, who suffered damage to his spinal nerve when he was shot six times by terrorists in Saudi Arabia in 2004, fronts three programmes for the One to One strand.

They explore how people cope with life-changing injuries and events and include an interview with Dr Stuart Butchart who gave Gardner hope in his darkest hours.

Butchart, a conservation scientist who was shot in the back in an ambush by masked bandits in Guatemala, sent an email to the BBC man when he was in hospital for seven months after the attack in which his cameraman was killed.

He offered Gardner advice on coping with life in a wheelchair and encouraged him to focus on what he could, rather than couldn't, do.

Butchart continues to undertake expeditions into wildernesses in efforts to save the world's birds, while Gardner was able, after many months of rehabilitation, to resume his work as a BBC journalist.

'After a life-changing injury or incident one of the things that makes a huge difference to how you then move on with the rest of your life is what you can still do and what you can't do,' says One to One producer Perminder Khatkar.

'Being able to return to work and continue with his profession has been one of the biggest factors in Frank's own recovery.

'His approach is that life has dealt you this blow - you're not dead and you can't change it so how can you make the best of it.'

In the nine years since the shooting, the father of two, who is a keen bobskier, has reported from countries like Afghanistan and Columbia and has even returned to Saudi Arabia.

But others have to deal with losing their jobs.

In this second programme Gardner meets Tim Rushby-Smith who lost his livelihood after falling from a tree.

And in programme three, he speaks to a woman who suddenly lost her sight - and with it both her job and her marriage.

'The key with these interviews is that Frank shares his experience with others who too have had life changing injuries or disabilities,' says Khatkar. 'It gives the listener a real insight into how one copes - the pain, the frustration but also the lighter moments too.'

One to One, Radio 4, Tuesday, August 20, 27 and September 3

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