AFTER suffering a serious spinal injury in April, Ipswich Grammar School maths teacher Alan Campbell has defied doctors' expectations by proudly attending the Year 12s' final assembly.
In a touching address by his former students on Friday, an emotional Mr Campbell was presented with a framed award containing the jerseys of the cricket, tennis and rugby teams he previously coached.
The seniors then presented the inaugural Alan Campbell medal, an award given to a Year 12 student who exhibits the same strength of character, passion for the school and tenacity as the teacher.
"I was excited to be back but I had mixed emotions," Mr Campbell said.
"The one thing that struck me was how much the students missed me. You don't often realise that as a teacher.
"It was a very special day and the Year 12's did a wonderful job."
Mr Campbell broke his neck after falling down the school steps in a tragic accident during the Easter holidays, leaving the much-loved teacher with no feeling in his arms or legs.
Despite being told he may never regain movement from the neck down, after eight months of painstaking rehabilitation Mr Campbell now has feeling in both legs and his left hand and can also stand up with assistance.
The active sportsman has high hopes for his rehabilitation, which was put on hold when doctors detected cancer in his bowel in August.
"The surgery set me back, but I've just got to get stronger now," he said.
Since his accident, the Ipswich Grammar School community has forged behind Mr Campbell in a big way.
"The Old Boys came and helped with furniture one weekend, they mowed the lawn and one lady organised for food to be brought to the house," he said.
"It's really gratifying to see the community come together."
Mr Campbell will be officially discharged from the Princess Alexandra Hospital's Spinal Injuries Unit on Monday and will begin his recovery at home.
"I would like to walk again but it will still take a couple of years," he said.
"Getting back to teaching would be wonderful."
Ipswich Grammar School is currently fundraising to get Mr Campbell a vehicle to increase his independence at home.
To donate phone the school on 3813 9600.
For more on the maths teacher's progress visit the Alan Campbell Recovery and Support Facebook page.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.