Norfolk teenager who spent last Christmas in a coma in Addenbrooke’s now has sights set on a career
Jordan Dowen, now 16, was riding the short distance from his home in Hunstanton to the town’s Smithdon High School, when he was involved in a collision with a car and suffered horrific head injuries.
He ended up in a medically-induced coma, after being flown to hospital by air ambulance.
Jordan says he still can’t remember being knocked off his bike, in a crash which could have killed him, on the last day of term.
“I don’t really remember waking up, just slowly coming round,” said Jordan. “The week before the accident’s also very patchy.”
Parents Sheridan and Joanne Dowen spent most of last Christmas and New Year at their son’s bedside. His three sisters, brother and friends “willed” him to get better on social media. Duncan Goose - brother of actress Claire - launched the #timetowakeup campaign on twitter, which was backed by his celebrity sister.
His father Mr Dowen, 47, managing director of West Norfolk courier firm Lynn Star, said at the time: “We talk to him every day, and hope he hears what we are saying.”
After weeks in a coma, he began to come round and finally returned home five weeks after the accident. In April, exactly four months after the crash, he returned to Smithdon.
“After the accident, they were slightly suggesting he didn’t go back to school but he was so determined,” said Mrs Dowen, 50, who added brain injuries sustained in the crash had affected Jordan’s speech, memory and concentration, which impacted on his results.
Jordan said he was proudest of the C he gained in science, helped by an A-graded ISA (individual skill assignment), where students must conduct a practical experiment.
While hopes of joining the army have had to be put on hold, Jordan is now on a carpentry course at the College of West Anglia.
While he sometimes struggles to find words as a legacy of his head injury, he is good with his hands and the tools of his chosen trade.
While he can’t remember last Christmas, he knows what he hopes to find under the tree this year.
“A battery drill,” he said. “All the ones at college are always flat.”
Jordan was a keen rugby player, who played for West Norfolk’s Under-16s before the accident. The sport has had to be put on hold as he recovers - along with the military.
“I was going to go into the Royal Engineers but I can’t go in for five years after my accident,” he said.
But while both have been put on the back burner, Jordan is now looking forward to leaving college and starting an apprenticeship, with Heacham-based joinery and construction firm Bespoke Norfolk.
While her son can’t remember the events of December 18, 2015, Joanne Dowen will never forget them.
“I knew Jordan had left the house to go to school,” she said. “I used to put their lunchboxes on the side and his lunchbox had gone. It was half past eight at that point.
“At 25 to nine, 20 to nine, something like that, I had a phone call from someone at the school saying that Jordan had been in an accident, he’d been hit by a car and knocked off his bike.”
One minute HR manager Mrs Dowen, 50, was drying her hair and getting ready for work. The next, she was living every parent’s worst nightmare.
“I could tell by the intonation in her voice it wasn’t good,” she said. “I just jumped in my car and sped up the road. I had wet hair, I hadn’t zipped my boots up.
“I could see people there, they’d put a road block up. There he was, lying on the floor. The paramedics had just cut off his clothes, there were lots of people all standing round.
“Someone shouted at me to come over, to tell Jordan I was there, because he wasn’t responding. He looked intact, he didn’t look like anything was broken. He was lying there in his boxer shorts, there was a bit of blood around his head.
“I shouted to tell him I was there. You feel at a loss and helpless. You just go numb, really numb and into a bubble.”