Now the 26-year-old hairdresser is up for a national hairdressing award having been inspired to reach the top of his profession by his near-death experience.
Sam, from Chattenden Lane, Rochester, has been shortlisted from thousands of entries after entering the Wahl British Barber of the Year competition, and now needs public votes to get to the next stage of the competition.
The achievement is amazing enough considering he only started out as a hairdresser in 2011, but it’s even more incredible following the events of May last year.
“I just went to sleep one Wednesday and I didn’t wake up,” he said. “I fell into a coma in my sleep.”
Struck down out of the blue by potentially fatal encephalitis, Sam cannot remember the events that followed and can only go on what family and friends told him.
“I didn’t turn up for work and I’m never even late for work, so they rang my girlfriend at the time and she thought something was wrong,” he said.
She came home and found me still asleep. She tried to wake me. She even threw water over me and everything but it didn’t work, so she rang for an ambulance.”
Doctors feared Sam could die or be left permanently brain damaged, but five days later he awoke.
"This is a huge opportunity to bring the barber of the year trophy back to Kent" - hairdresser Sam Wall
His recovery took afurther two months as he had to learn to walk and talk again, and deal with the psychological after-effects of the illness.
“I felt guilt about putting my family through it,” he added. “It was all right for me. I was just asleep for five days. I didn’t see myself in a coma. I didn’t see what my family and girlfriend saw.”
Now fully recovered, bar some short-term memory lapses, Sam is focused on his job at Alan Jones Men’s Grooming in Sevenoaks.
“I’m relatively new to this but it’s all taken off,” he added. “It’s just down to hard work – you get out what you put in..
“This is a huge opportunity to bring the barber of the year trophy back to Kent and show that with hard work and determination anything is possible.”
- Vote for Sam at www.wahlacademy.co.uk/entries