Forget mince pies – I’m hoping friends, family and colleagues will donate to this great cause instead

Even before I was ill, baking was not my strong point – so when the charity Headway asked me to organise a ‘Mince Pie Morning’ to raise funds for its Christmas appeal, it was a fairly solid “no”. That said, I did want to find a way to say ‘thank you’ for the help they have given me over the past few weeks. For those who may have missed the news, I was taken ill in July and had a Colloid Cyst removed from my brain – something I described in an earlier post.  

The operation has left me in a state of slow recovery and my strength, cognition and energy are gradually improving. The signs are good though and I recently attended my friend’s wedding, caught up with some old journalist friends, and showed off my scar which is healing so well it is virtually unnoticeable despite being slap bang on top of my forehead.

Catching up with friends at Stu’s Wedding

Guiding lights

There are many people to thank for getting me to this point, not least my wife, Sara, who not only lived the horror of my illness (while I was largely out of it in a hospital bed) but has been a constant source of support and common sense as I get back on my feet. And then there’s my community NHS visitor and Headway in Leicester who between them have been guiding lights towards my continuous improvement. There is a risk that if I thanked everyone who has been kind, supportive and helpful so far, this post would read like the end credits of *Gandhi so I have specifically singled out Headway because their support was instrumental to my return to work on a part-time basis and there is absolutely no chance of me baking mince pies and hosting an event at work for their fundraiser.

Christmas Campaign

To understand a little bit more about Headway, beyond the help I’ve received, I interviewed Ruth Johnson, Marketing and Engagement Executive for Leicestershire, Leicester & Rutland Headway, for a podcast here. It was a chance for me to express my gratitude for their support so far and promote for their Christmas appeal called “Sheadway” which launches on Tuesday November 30 and cash donations made between that point and 7 December 2021 will be doubled. Here is a Youtube film to support the Headway Christmas Campaign.

Men make up 68% of the brain injury survivors – that includes people who became ill like me, accidents at work, road accidents and so on. Having learned a lot about Headway lately, I realise that all recovery from brain trauma is different and what I experienced is just the thin end of the wedge in terms of the rehabilitation and recovery some people have to go through.

(Shed-way – get it?!)

The Sheadway project aims to tackle the challenge of male patients who typically find it more difficult to build social connections than women. This is achieved by bringing people together in a purpose-built woodwork workshop which them to gain a renewed sense of purpose whilst completing a project (Shed-way – get it?!). The results are impressive and there is a webpage dedicated to the project and its outcomes so far here

To be fair to Headway, baking mince pies was amongst a long list of other fundraising options I was offered that I’m also unlikely to get organised for – suggested activities included wearing festive hats (humbug etc…) , or forfeiting presents (no chance…) or guessing the numbers of candies in a jar (insert joke about missing Haribos here…). So rather than actually do something that requires effort, I am being honest and hoping that my friends, family and work colleagues might just read this and make a donation to a great cause. Like I mentioned on the podcast, Headway is not an ‘immediately obvious’ charity until you need it, but for those people it supports, it provides an incredible lifeline. So please make a donation if you can and feel blessed that you don’t have to eat one of my mince pies…

Here is the link to make a donation and details about the campaign

Here is my podcast with Headway:

Give the podcast a listen!

*For those of you under 40-years-old, the closing credits of Richard Attenbough’s epic movie biopic Gandhi offers quite a long list of names at the end…

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