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On The Table Read, “the best book magazine in the UK“, Actonian’s RFC player John Hambly realeases his memoir, Samson Rising, about his experiences following an MS diagnosis, and founding the Samson Centre.

MS Diagnosis

John Hambly shares his life story in Samson Rising.  Hailing from a tough housing estate in Cornwall, his passion for rugby showed him how teamwork and sport can support you both physically and mentally. Moving to London, getting married, having kids and still playing his beloved game – this time for Actonian’s RFC – Hambly was diagnosed with MS at the age of 36. Channelling adversity into positivity, this powerhouse for good founded the Samson Centre, which now sees 200 people a week and offers 10,000 therapy sessions each year.

John Hambly on The Table Read
John Hambly

Whilst written by a sportsman, Samson Rising is definitely not yet another sports memoir.  One of the most uplifting biographies published for quite some time, the efforts of this most modest of authors has literally transformed the lives of thousands of fellow MS sufferers.

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Telling his life story with wit and integrity, the author details how following the shattering diagnosis of MS, he embraced the ‘cards’ life had dealt him, and set about making change for the good.

Awarded an OBE for his endeavours in 2021, this biography is one that inspires, makes you marvel at the author’s tenacity and brings you close to tears on several occasions. It is also a lesson to us all on how to embrace those curveballs that can knock us off our planned trajectory, and how with teamwork and self-belief we can bounce back potentially stronger than ever.

With a foreword from ex-England rugby captain, Dylan Hartley, Samson Rising isa must-read that is guaranteed to lift the spirits and motivate all that pick up a copy.

Samson Rising

From childhood days growing up on a tough Cornish council estate during the 1960s and ’70s, through to establishing a bespoke Multiple Sclerosis therapy centre in Surrey, John Hambly’s life has been quite a roller-coaster.

Samson Rising by John Hambly on The Table Read
Samson Rising

He discovered the strength of teamwork early on by becoming mentally and physically fit playing rugby at senior school, whilst also realising that this was a good way to dispel bullies.

A career in surveying led him to London; quite a change for a boy from the west country. There were some hilarious and mad escapades as he learnt ‘on the job’, but he was successful in his chosen profession and also in sport, becoming Captain of an aspiring junior London rugby club. Marriage and four daughters also followed along the way.

It is when participating in the London Marathon that the first alarming signs of his physical problems appeared, but only later that Multiple Sclerosis was diagnosed.

Following two years where his condition seemed to be in free-fall, and realising the great lack of specialist resources in the NHS, John became determined to improve the situation. Over the next 17 years, with help from his ex-teammates, charity trustees, family and friends, millions of pounds were raised to enable the construction and development of the Samson Centre in Guildford; eventually treating up to 200 people a week and offering 10,000 therapy sessions each year.

It is John Hambly’s indomitable spirit and great belief in teamwork that built this charitable foundation – and this is his story.

John Hambly

Born and brought up in Truro, Cornwall, the author attended Redruth Grammar School and then Leicester Polytechnic, where he gained a degree in Building Surveying. Becoming a Chartered Surveyor at Philip Andrews in London, he then went on to work at Cyril Silver and Partners. Eventually he joined Scott Godwin Associates where he became a partner.

John Hambly on The Table Read
John Hambly

Throughout his life the sport of rugby has always been high on his agenda. His formative years within an uncompromising Cornish rugby scene held him in good stead, and when his sporting prowess proved effective in London he welcomed the opportunity and honour of captaining Actonian’s RFC for five years.

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Over the years he has regularly returned back to his roots in Cornwall with his wife Marion and their four daughters, visiting family and friends and using the change of tempo and the beauty of the county to rejuvenate body and spirit. In his own words: ‘Despite having been unable to visit the fatherland in recent years, I am still sustained by the dream of once again looking across my beloved Mount’s Bay as the sun rises on another beautiful day.’

Find Samson Rising now:

Published by United Writers Publications, Samson Rising is available in hardback (£18.95) and Kindle format (£9.99) on Amazon at and and Waterstones at

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