Serious head and brain injury survivor says thank-you to support group

Dave Bowes suffered multiple brain injuries in 2007 when a car hit his motorbike. He was left with a neurological disability that affects his balance, memory, sleep and emotions.

Despite his life changing injury, Dave has since become the British Paraclimbing Champion in his category, been on the Paraclimbing World Cup podium, was placed fourth in the World Championship, and recently made Great Britain’s Ice Climbing Team for able-bodied athletes. Dave recently returned to Headway, the charity that helped him so much.

Read Dave’s story in his own words below and watch the video of Dave at Headway.

My name is Dave Bowes and I suffered a traumatic brain injury 7 years ago when a car pulled out in front of my motorbike.  As you can imagine, my life has never been the same since.

My wife and I lived down south at the time and after 4 years of not getting the right help from the NHS, and running out of money we moved to the Wirral to live with her parents.

It was then that we attended a Headway drop in session.  To say that I was overwhelmed in every sense is an understatement.  In fact I quickly ran next door to the children’s library and hid in a toy house!  Put simply my symptoms were not under control and I panicked being in a busy situation.

But thanks to Headway putting me in touch with the Acquired Brain Injury Unit for therapy I eventually returned to the drop in sessions almost unrecognisable in my ability to deal with everything that was too much before.

I attended sessions as often as I could in between getting back in to rock climbing as a form of physical rehab.

Earlier this year I decided that I had got to a certain level of recovery where my issues were not getting any better but I was at least able to control them.  It was then I wondered what I could do with my life.  I decided to give back to the charity that gave so much to me.

I wanted to make people aware at the great help and community that Headway provide whilst also fighting the stigma attached to hidden disabilities.  I have been on the receiving end of the latter countless time but hey – I don’t look disabled right?  So what right do I have to pretend I am?  This needed to change!

I entered the National Paraclimbing Series and I became British Champion in my category.  I was then invited to represent Great Britain in the World Cup winning 2 silvers, a bronze and also placed 4th in the World Championship.

These achievements gave me the spotlight in the public eye to start to get my message across.  I’m here today aren’t I?

Following on from this I was persuaded to enter the able bodies British Ice Climbing Series in the hopes of starting a para-ice climbing team.

I’d never tried ice climbing before, or the indoor version but decided if I was going to do a job I’d do it right and try everything.

I came a very surprised 3rd, once again being invited onto a GB team.  This time as an able bodied athlete.

For me this is all the more empowering as I hope it gives out a message that the seemingly impossible can be achieved with the right support and determination.

Getting the right specialist help from organisations and people who are experienced and know what they are doing is so important – and the best ones will work together to get the best possible help for you.”

Headway Wirral runs three support groups

Headway Wirral already runs three support groups for people over 18-years-old (two in Birkenhead and one in Bromborough) and a drop-in clinic at Clatterbridge hospital. The charity held the open day to discover if a support group for West Wirral would be welcome – and if enough funding can be secured by the charity to run the group.

It costs more than £25,000 a year to fund Headway’s activities in Wirral and £5,000 a year to run a weekly support group. The vast majority of Headway’s funding comes from generous donations and fundraising.

Dianne Yates, Headway Wirral committee member and Head of Serious and Catastrophic Injury for Birchall Blackburn Law, says:

“We see people at the very beginning, after their accidents, when they’re badly damaged and facing unimaginable change. So to be involved in Headway Wirral is amazing because we get to meet and help brain injury victims when they’re courageously rebuilding their lives. It’s very inspiring.”

Headway also works to promote understanding of all aspects of brain injury and social stigma, campaigns to reduce the incidence of ABI through education, promoting the use of cycling helmets, reducing car speeds and improving road safety.

Anyone interested in joining a Headway support group in West Wirral should call Phil Barr on 0750 697 5261. For more information about Headway go to www.headway.org.uk or call 0808 800 2244.

If you, or a loved one has had a serious injury, then contact our specialist lawyers at Birchall Blackburn Law to see how we can help.