On an average morning in 2014, Stephen’s usual routine was disrupted with devastating effects.
On his journey to work as a Bricklayer, a car ran into the back of Stephen’s vehicle, shunting him underneath an HGV lorry. The crash was catastrophic, and Stephen acquired a traumatic brain injury (TBI) which left him fighting to stay alive.
The trauma impacted every part of Stephen’s life; he spent nine long months in the hospital unable to walk or talk and experienced big changes to his personality. Even now, he has no memory of the time he spent in the hospital.
Stephen began attending the Stourport Headway Wellbeing Centre several years after his brain injury. He took to the sessions straight away and found that he had a creative flair for woodwork. “I love to go to Headway because of the social side of things, I’ve made lots of friends and I like to practise my woodwork skills”.
Stephen has a very inquisitive nature so he finds the day trips particularly stimulating and always comes away with lots of questions! “The trips out are brilliant! I loved going to the circus and the allotment is a nice place to get some fresh air and relax on sunny days”.
Ryan sustained a traumatic brain injury as a baby and has struggled with the effects of his injury his entire life.
Every day, he contends with chronic fatigue, memory loss, pain and weakness on one side of his body, which makes life unimaginably tough for the dad of three.
Ryan was referred to Headway Worcestershire’s Outreach team after undergoing a complex procedure on his brain that left him incapable of day-to-day activities during his recovery. Headway helped Ryan and his wife with practical support and arranged counselling sessions too.
“The girls in the Outreach team at Headway helped us so much. They gave us emotional support when we most needed it, helped us sort out our money and even sourced us a bed frame when we were sleeping on a mattress on the floor”.
Despite his severe fatigue, Ryan now volunteers in the charity shop once a week to give something back: “I don’t always feel positive but I try to not let it show. I choose to not let my brain injury get the better of me because there is always someone worse off who doesn’t get to choose”.
Pete used to love his job before his brain injury. As a chef at a busy local pub, he enjoyed the thrill of serving great food to demanding customers and thrived under the pressure of a hectic kitchen. But after suffering two major strokes within a sixth month period in 2015, he was forced to give up doing what he loved.
“The strokes affected my whole body. I couldn’t walk the same and my hands didn’t work how they used to. My head felt cloudy and I completely lost all speech”.
Pete spent eight months in and out of the hospital and was looked after by his brother, sister, and parents. He underwent speech therapy at a rehabilitation clinic and worked hard to re-learn the vocal skills that he had lost. He was referred to Headway Worcestershire in 2016 and has attended sessions at the Wellbeing Centre ever since.
“Headway is brilliant! I love coming here to make things in the woodwork sessions and to play pool and socialise. It means I can practise my speech with people who are understanding”.
He’s also slowly regaining his confidence in the kitchen, having recently made himself a sandwich for the first time since his strokes. “When I’m at Headway they help me to do all the things I want to, so I don’t feel like I’m missing out”.
It’s fair to say that Nigel is part of the furniture at the Worcester Headway Wellbeing Centre. Whether he’s cracking a joke or making mischief around the Centre, he’s never seen without a smile. But he has endured a long and bumpy journey to get to where he is now.
Nigel has travelled far and wide while serving in the army then as a lorry driver in later life. But on the day he couldn’t remember his way home from work, he knew something was wrong. In 2001, an aneurysm in Nigel’s brain ruptured causing it to haemorrhage. He was left with no short-term memory, a change in personality and unable to recognise his family and friends.
Nigel came to Headway after some time in hospital and was supported by many services, including travel training to reduce his anxiety, finance management and counselling.
“Headway has given me everything. They helped with my mental wellbeing and even sourced accommodation for me. They support me with anything I need, I’d be lost without them”.
Now, Nigel attends the Wellbeing Centre three times a week to paint, play games, make pottery and spend time with his friends. He’s even shown a flare for creative writing and has recently had some of his poems published in an anthology!
Life has never been the same for Liz since her brain haemorrhaged in 1993. She survived with no real physical effects, but her personality had changed completely.
“Although I looked the same, I was a different person. Suddenly I became nervous around people and couldn’t remember words. I became agoraphobic and suffered from crippling anxiety and panic attacks. My confidence plummeted and I fell into a very deep depression”.
The effects of her brain injury put a huge strain on Liz’s husband and three daughters, who no longer recognised the person she had become. The couple divorced and the children were separated; a common family occurrence in the aftermath of a brain injury.
Liz was referred to Headway Worcestershire and began seeing a counsellor at home. She has since used Headway’s services intermittently throughout her journey, whenever she’s needed some extra support. Now, Liz lives in sheltered housing and is slowly regaining her confidence. She understands that her rehabilitation is a journey and will accept the backward steps with the forward.
“It’s important for people to understand that although I may look the same, the changes in my mind were huge. My brain injury is a silent disability, which is so widely misunderstood”.
Our photographer Julian Rouse has kindly photographed our clients for this exhibition. He is an ex Headway Worcestershire client, and has been on his own rehabilitation journey since a major stroke in 2014 left him fighting for his life.
Julian’s academic merit has afforded him a full and varied career; he achieved a degree in Physics from Bristol University, spent time working in the Antarctic, and has been Head of Department and worked in schools for over 14 years before his stroke.
But just one week before Julian was due to retire, a pulmonary embolism left him unable to speak or move the right-hand side of his body and without memory of his wife or children. Julian’s world was turned upside-down, and as his rehabilitation journey began, his depression set in.
He was referred to Headway Worcestershire who visited him weekly and put him in touch with a counsellor. As a photography enthusiast, Julian’s rehabilitation targets were focused around getting him to use his camera again. He was also encouraged to try volunteering as a way of practising his speech and improving his mental wellbeing.
“Now I feel infinitely better than before. I volunteer at a charity shop and take my camera out on most outings”
Julian’s favourite photographic subjects are people, so he was the right man for the job! This picture was taken on the first holiday his family could have together after his stroke.
I’m Leo Tarrant, a Professional Golfer living in Worcester and in 2011 I suffered a severe right-sided Brain Injury in an accident in Worcester. I spent nine months in a coma and underwent several serious operations. The people that loved me and the medical staff never stopped believing in me and never led me to believe I wouldn’t recover.
Headway Worcestershire then became a big part of my miracle. Headway led me on a path from the hospital exit door back to the life I enjoy now. I really appreciated and hugely benefited from the incredible, professional and friendly work Headway do at a time when people’s lives have changed so much from what they’ve always known, for the patient and all their family too.
The Headway support staff did something really important and different from anyone else with me. The same few people would regularly visit me and felt like my friends, to talk about life, getting out, meeting people, finding out your thoughts and feelings. Looking back that was so important, especially as many of your friends are no longer there as your life isn’t the same. Headway helped me to adjust, focus and rebuild my life, socially and professionally and with their help, I’m happier than I’ve ever been!
Deana has always been green-fingered. She used to spend her time tending to her garden and loved to watch the seeds she had planted grow into beautiful blooming flowers.
But in 2010, a major stroke left Deana with a brain injury that took her mobility from her. She found it too difficult to keep on top of things so she had to leave her home and give up her lovely garden too.
As part of her rehabilitation journey, Deana was referred to Headway Worcestershire. She quickly involved herself in all the activities the Wellbeing Centre had to offer; from communication sessions, to day trips out, to gentle exercise classes; she’s given everything a try!
Deana was even actively involved in the set-up of the Headway allotment in Kidderminster, which she and other clients visit regularly to de-weed and bring home some lovingly home-grown vegetables.
"I love going to the allotment. It’s peaceful there and so nice to get outside in the fresh air. I miss my garden but not as much anymore"
Long may Deana’s love of gardening continue to bloom!
Business was booming for Keith back in 2002. The self-employed milkman had just taken over the local rounds for the Co-Op and was the busiest he’d ever been. But when an articulated lorry crashed into his milk van at 3am one morning, his working life came to an abrupt halt.
The impact of the crash had injured Keith’s brain, leaving him unable to do things he’d previously taken for granted. He was no longer able to lift heavy milk crates and his confidence behind the wheel had been lost completely, so he was forced to give up his work.
“The thing I found most upsetting was that I felt hopeless around the house. I got tired so easily and I just felt frustrated all the time. But as a silent disability, it’s hard for people to understand this”.
A few years after his accident, Keith visited the Stourport Wellbeing Centre.
“I was expecting to see a gloomy care home, but instead I met a group of people in a similar situation to me who were going out on walks, playing sports and generally being active. I found it really encouraging and uplifting”.
As Keith spent time at headway and began to take on part-time work at a social club, he felt his confidence creeping back. Eventually, he began to attend headway as a volunteer instead and even joined as a Trustee for a while.
“I was able to offer the perspective of an ex-service user and wanted to give something back to the charity. I think most of the clients would do the same if they could”.
David and his family have been through a difficult ordeal to say the least. When in 2009 an aneurysm in his brain burst causing it to haemorrhage, it was touch and go whether he’d pull through.
“I was just watching TV at home and heard a ‘pop’ sound in my head. I knew straight away that something was very wrong.”
David was rushed to the QE hospital in Birmingham, where he suffered another stroke leaving him clinically dead for some minutes. Once resuscitated he was put into an induced coma for three months, in a stable but critical state.
After a painful wait, David was brought to consciousness again. The resultant brain injury meant that he couldn’t remember his family or friends, and was paralysed down the left-hand side of his body. He began a long and arduous journey of recovery, with countless physio and rehabilitation sessions at home. In 2010, David was referred to Headway and joined the Worcester Wellbeing Centre.
“Headway has helped me so much, it’s been a real life-line for me. It’s great for me to mix with other people in a similar situation, and the staff are very understanding and patient. I’ve made some friends for life”.
Andrew had a brain tumour as a child. He was operated on and the tumour was removed, but it left him with a brain injury that shaped his future irreversibly.
Since this ordeal in his early years, he has struggled with learning difficulties, short-term memory loss and a lack of concentration. The effects of this brain injury might dampen the spirit of your average person, but Andrew is far too busy for that!
In addition to attending Karate lessons and doing occasional voluntary shifts in charity shops, Andrew attends our Bromsgrove Headway Wellbeing Centre once a week. He loves to play games and puzzles, creating objects in our arts and crafts groups, taking part in the communication sessions and loves to go on day-trips.
“I love coming to headway because I like to keep busy. I like to make friends and be helpful, and the day trips are absolutely brilliant!”
Andrew can be an anxious person, but his confidence has grown significantly since joining Headway in 2011. So much so that he’s now working with other people in the community to support them with their own special needs!
Val had a busy and independent life, filled with dancing, hiking and socialising with friends. But when a freak accident occurred in 2012, her world was turned upside-down. While out shopping, a huge heavy steel panel fell on Val from a construction site, causing her brain to haemorrhage resulting in a traumatic brain injury (TBI). The severe effects of her injury (migraines, dizziness, fatigue) left Val unable to work and struggling to come to terms with what had happened.
Val turned to Headway Worcestershire for help; she was signposted to the appropriate counselling service and was encouraged to attend a support group for help and guidance. “Headway helped me to accept my disability and get to know this ‘new’ me. They enabled me to find a feeling of purpose again, I will be forever grateful and appreciative for that”. Now Val’s life is back on track. She still suffers from the effects of her injury, but has regained her confidence, independence and lust for life! She volunteers at Headway Worcestershire and has even completed a self-help training course to offer 1-2-1 sessions to share her experience with other survivors, showing them there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Registered Charity Number 702490
Company Registration Number 02443464 (England and Wales)
Affiliated to Headway – the brain injury association Registered Charity Number 1025852
Headway Worcestershire The Mill, Gregory’s Mill Street Worcester WR3 8BA