Vast amounts of people and families are living through brain injury with minimal awareness or support from the outside. PAUL For Brain Recovery offers the support and awareness that people living with a brain injury have been waiting for. In September 2015, PAUL For Brain Recovery gathered four extraordinary men together to achieve something remarkable. Together, they completed a marathon. Above all else, they raised a grand total of £1,500 for the charity to continue its good work.
The relay team all had one thing in common – a recovery – but they all had very different stories to tell.
Although we will never truly understand how their journey felt and their struggle to recover, we can become aware. Paul Spence, Gavin Bricklebank, Martin Gray and Patrick Dillon exclusively disclosed their stories. Paul, the CEO of the Paul 4 Brain charity, has a gift, which is to help others and bring people together; he has created a brave relay team, who will be united for many years to come.
Gavin a Royal Engineer, ran the second leg of the relay, taking over from Paul, who set an impressive lead. Gavin gave every last ounce of strength to comfortably maintain the team’s position. Gavin’s brain injury presented itself simply with headaches – which doctors initially thought was a head cold. What followed was horrific.
Gavin tells us: “When I arrived to the hospital I couldn’t speak, they thought I was taking drugs or having a stroke. In the end I fell asleep on the Acute Assessment Unit and woke up after 10 days.”
Gavin had experienced Encephalitis, a rare but serious condition that causes inflammation of the brain. Just 18 months into his recovery Gavin had got back on his feet and proudly completed the relay with his team.
He said: “I liked the quietness and to be on my own to get over the low depression stage. I like the running, it gave me a boost. I like solitude and silence I get when I run.”
Next, on third and longest leg of the relay, ran Martin. He has a wealth of understanding of brain recovery, over 10 years after his car accident Martin still suffers the consequences of brain injury. It’s nothing but admirable that he is so many years down the line and still trying to help others by raising money and, most importantly, awareness for the Paul 4 Brain charity.
Martin said: “You gain something else after injury, I can do things now that I never thought I would be able to do, like the half marathon and the relay. I used to have asthma but I have got focused and you just keep pushing yourself and pushing yourself.”
Although brain injury does change lives, Martin shows us that even when you have seen the lowest and darkest corners of your soul there is still hope.
Patrick had the limelight of the last leg, powerfully bringing the team in. Patrick crossed the line to find his daughter anxiously waiting for her dad. Patrick told us how magical the whole experience was for him. He said: “I was emotional my daughter waiting at the end and everyone boosting us by shouting encouragement to us.”
Patrick has spent the shortest time recovering of those in the team, having experienced an Arterial Vascular Amalgamation (AVN) only in February 2015, proving that anything can be achieved if you have a focus and you are determined to succeed. He said: “The big thing for me now after my brain injury is I’m more of a yes man now. I will say yes to everything.”
Watching this relay team in action, their injuries are invisible, you begin to think surely if they can run a marathon there is nothing wrong with them. Collectively, the team agreed this can be one of the hardest things about brain injuries. Awareness is low, the public don’t have much knowledge or understanding, which leads to social interaction being much more difficult.
The team ask people not to be so swift to judge someone on their external appearance, because there is often more happening under the surface you cannot see.
The team has left us with more than a sense of pride for their achievement; they have left us with a valuable lesson, you are not alone in your recovery, the Paul 4 Brain charity creates a support network to guide you along your path, small daily improvements are the key to substantial long-term results.
The team will be returning Easter Sunday, March 27th 2016 for Paul’s 10K. The fun run is suitable for all abilities. Come and join the team at noon, at Bilton Village Hall. Your support for the team is genuinely appreciated and never forgotten. To sign up and support the charity please enter here; https://goo.gl/Qme2zq
Written by Beth Taylor.
Proof by Laura Jennison.
Many thanks from the charity ladies.