independent

Wednesday 23 January 2019

Wexford man at Buckingham Palace

Kevin Doyle, second from left, chatting with Lucy Brown (CEO of the Disabiliity Initiative), and Sophie, Countess of Wessex (Patron of Disability Initiative) at Buckingham Palace
Kevin Doyle, second from left, chatting with Lucy Brown (CEO of the Disabiliity Initiative), and Sophie, Countess of Wessex (Patron of Disability Initiative) at Buckingham Palace

Anna Hayes

A Wexford man whose professional soccer career was cut short by brutal injury 19 years ago found himself in Buckingham Palace in recognition of his work as a physiotherapist for disability services in the UK.

Kevin Doyle, from Ashfield Drive and originally from Maudlintown, is the managing director of Ascenti, the biggest independent physiotherapy provider in the UK. Kevin qualified as a physio in 2006 and worked with Birmingham City for three years before teaming up with the Head Physio at the club to set up their own company.

Through their work with the NHS's Disability Initiative, Kevin found himself being invited to Buckingham Palace for an audience with Sophie, Countess of Wessex, as she is a patron of the Disability Initiative. While he had been contacted in relation to the event, a postal invite really hammered home the significance of the occasion.

'To be honest, my wife Emma and in-laws were probably more excited than me! But when you get to Buckingham Palace and see the thousands of people standing outside, and then you get to walk in through the front door, it is quite special.'

The reception took place in the Balcony Room which Kevin explained was a special treat as it was the most important room in the palace. He added that his wife was having the invite framed.

Kevin is the son of legendary drummer Bill Doyle and Olive Anglim. A talented soccer player from a young age, he played his club football with North End and Wexford Albion under coaches Jack and Denny Carthy, and Willie Furlong among others. At the age of 15, he left Wexford to join Leeds United and spent three years there, before joining Nottingham Forest.

At the time, he was the first Wexford man to join an English Premier League team.

However, in 1999, at the age of 19, he suffered a career-ending injury and had to endure a gruelling treatment process including ten operations and a huge amount of physio.

'I was probably lucky not to actually lose my leg,' Kevin said, adding that during his physio period it got him thinking about pursuing a career in the area of physical therapy.

'When I finished playing I was devastated. It was something I'd always wanted to do. I'd played U15, U16 and 18 for Ireland and everything was moving along nicely. But these things happen. I started thinking about physio then and the Player Football Association helped me out with funding to go to college in Salford University in Manchester.'

Kevin worked as a physio with Birmingham City before setting up a company which was subsequently acquired by his current employer Ascenti, which operates all over the UK doing 50,000 sessions per month.

Kevin lives in Nottingham with his wife Emma and their two boys Seamus and Rory. He gets home a couple of times a year and his sons always enjoy two Christmas Days - one in the UK, and one in Ireland with their doting grandparents!

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