HE’S had to wait three years to come home. But Jack Farrugia can’t stop smiling as he is finally returning to his beloved Portsmouth.
The 20-year-old, who is a huge Pompey fan and was the former captain of Havant and Waterlooville FC Academy, has been living in hospitals and rehabilitation centres since he was badly hurt in a car crash in Tangier Road, Portsmouth, in 2008.
The crash, which happened as he took a lift back from South Downs College, left him with brain damage and unable to walk or talk.
But the old Jack still shines through as he can join in conversations and tell people how he’s feeling through nodding or shaking his head.
He has spent this year undergoing intensive rehabilitation in Salisbury after spending the previous year in a hospital in Bath.
But, to the joy of his loved ones, he has spent Christmas at home.
After returning to Salisbury this week, he will finally be discharged from hospital on January 4.
He will then move into his mum Lorraine’s house in Stride Avenue, Baffins, and once again be with his brothers Joe, 18, and Tom, 17.
Lorraine, 48, said: ‘It’s something we have been waiting for for three years.
‘We can’t wait. We have the had the downstairs of the house demolished and rebuilt to accommodate him.
‘We have a team of eight carers in place.
‘It’s something we have been looking forward to – it cuts down on the 100-mile drive.
‘It will give us more quality time with Jack and he can’t wait to get home.’
Jack has been home for Christmas for the two previous years, but has always had to return to hospital for several months at a time.
Lorraine added: ‘We had a big open house on Boxing Day for him to see all his family and friends.’
Jack will eventually move into his own specially-converted bungalow in Drayton.
But the move is likely to take more than a year as it is subject to planning permission from the council.
The property has been paid for through the £900,000 compensation the family got from the car crash.
And, once Jack moves back, the family are sure he will be spending many a Saturday at his favourite place – Fratton Park.
Lorraine added: ‘We tried to get him a ticket for the Southampton match but couldn’t and it was Millwall away at Christmas.
‘But he’s on the list for a season ticket at Fratton Park, so hopefully we will be able to get a disabled wheelchair pass for him next year.’
Dad: We are really grateful to have him here
JACK’S dad and his legion of friends are excited to be able to welcome him home.
Laurence Farrugia, 48, of Eastern Road, Portsmouth, said: ‘A lot of people will be coming to see him as they can’t get to Salisbury.
‘It’s nice. Hard work, but well worth it.
‘When his friends come round we normally leave them to talk, and he loves it – he really does. It will just be nice to pop round and see him, do a few bits and play some games with him.’
Jack’s progress has been slow over the last year after some major strides were made during the first two years of his recovery.
He now has an electric wheelchair which he can control to go places he wants to.
He has even been able to kick a football when his family have taken him out to the park.
Doctors continue to test communication aids – such as using Jack’s eye movements to convey simple messages.
But it is unlikely he will ever have the strength to stand up and walk again, despite early signs of hope while he was in hospital.
Mr Farrugia said this time of year made everyone realise just how lucky they are to have Jack.
‘We are really grateful to have him here,’ he added.
‘As time goes on, you realise how close to death Jack was.’