Saturday, 19 June 2021

THE club’s lunch meeting on Tuesday last week at the Red Lion Hotel was the occasion for members to re-acquaint themselves with a prominent local charity which they had supported in the past.

Zoe Lane, fund-raising manager for Headway Thames Valley, told members that it will be 30 years old this year, having started in 1987 as Headway Berkshire.

The charity was originally based at Battle Hospital in Reading and later moved to Townlands Hospital in Henley and then to Brunner Hall in Greys Road, where it still is.

Headway seeks to improve the lives of adults with acquired brain injury and to raise awareness of its causes and effects.

Although totally independent and responsible for its own fund-raising, it is affiliated to Headway UK. Headway Thames Valley has 12 members of staff and sees 40 or 50 clients each week, who may be suffering from the after-effects of road accidents, sports injury, strokes, mild concussion or severe physical disability.

The clients are given physiotherapy to make them more independent, while their families are supported with information and assistance in understanding the condition.

Mrs Lane, who has lived in Henley for six years, explained the various fund-raising events as well as the outreach arrangements which covered further afield in Berkshire and South Buckinghamshire.

She then introduced Jamie Higgins, who has been working for the charity for three years as an outreach worker and media manager.

He suffered a brain injury in February 2012 as a result of hitting his head on the kerb, causing him to be in hospital for several weeks.

He was told he had brain damage, although he looked perfectly well.

Jamie described how he had become aggressive and how he had previously been good at maths.

He was continually anxious and suffered crippling headaches and had no sense of smell or taste.

He heard of Headway about a year after the accident and his family encouraged him to go along. Meeting other people showed that he was not alone.

The charity offered him a job and, although he still suffers from fatigue, it taught Jamie how to control his energy.

Encouraging other sufferers, helping to run groups in Reading and Bracknell, he has become a core part of the organisation.

A grateful vote of thanks to both speakers was voiced by club president Lionel Scott.

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