Wirral man to become an Ironman for local brain charity

Bill_Barr_WestKirbyTriathlon Headway Wirral 2A man from Meols in Wirral will take part in a gruelling swimming, cycling and running race to become an Ironman in honour of his brother and to help his father fundraise for a local brain injury charity.

Bill (William) Barr is taking on an exhausting Ironman event to raise vital funds for Headway Wirral, which is a charity that works tirelessly to improve life for people and their families after a serious brain injury.

The 28-year-old’s efforts are being supported by Birchall Blackburn Law, which also funds a monthly group meeting for Headway Wirral.

Bill says: “I’m hoping to raise more than £500 for Headway Wirral by completing the Weymouth Ironman 70.3. My dad became involved in the charity through my brother Pete, who suffered a brain injury at the age of 21, and I’ve seen first-hand the incredible work that Headway Wirral does for people with acquired brain injuries (ABI).

“Hearing the stories from Headway Wirral members you realise that a brain injury can affect anyone at any time and I know it impacts on the whole family.”

Pete’s brain injury was caused by viral encephalitis and he was in a drug induced coma for six weeks. Encephalitis is a rare but life-changing condition that causes a swelling of the brain. Some people make a full recovery but for many it can lead to permanent damage. Pete, now aged 33, lives with severe epilepsy.

Phil Barr, development officer for Headway Wirral and father to Pete and Bill, says: “There are more than 800 Wirral people living with a brain injury. That’s 800 families dealing with a catastrophic head injury that completely changes all of their lives. Each family faces different challenges and has different needs. We offer life-long support and services to help all family members to try to cope with the physical and psychological trauma – and rebuild the best life possible.

Bill_Phil_Barr_Ironman_Headway Wirral 1 (sml)“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 our funding comes from generous donations and fundraising, so when Bill mentioned doing the Ironman challenge for the group I wasn’t going to let him get out of it. I’m really proud of him because it’s not going to be easy!”

To finish the formidable Ironman challenge Bill will have to swim 1.2 miles, ride 56 miles and run 13.1 miles. He started preparing for the event in March and he is training 10 to 12 hours per week. To prepare for the Ironman he is also taking part in the Wirral Sprint Triathlon in West Kirby at the end of this month (August 28).

Bill says: “I had a certain level of fitness before I started this but Ironman is a whole new level. It is brutal. I do a long run and long cycle every week and in between there is the open water swimming and shorter runs and rides. I’m looking forward to finishing the event so I don’t have to do so much training.

“Thank you Birchall Blackburn Law for supporting my efforts. Their involvement means I can just focus on training and raising as much money as I can for Headway Wirral.”

Dianne Yates, Partner and Head of Serious and Catastrophic Injury for Birchall Blackburn Law, says: “An Ironman challenge is tough and we’re really proud of Bill for his dedication and hard work. We know the family well, and Bill seems to share the same amazing drive, courage and spirit as the rest of the Barr clan, which is what you need when a serious brain injury impacts on a family’s life.”

Headway Wirral 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.

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.

For more information about Headway Wirral go to www.headwaywirral.org.uk or call 0808 800 2244.

Bill will face the Weymouth Ironman 70.3 challenge on September 11. You can sponsor him and support the amazing work of Headway Wirral by going to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/WilliamBarr.