David's bright future

A SUFFOLK dad has fought his way back to fitness after suffering a brain injury on his daughter's wedding day. Today David Dixon is planning to help the services which saved him.

A SUFFOLK dad has fought his way back to fitness after suffering a brain injury on his daughter's wedding day. Today David Dixon is planning to help the services which saved him. REBECCA LEFORT reports.

IT should have been one of the happiest days of his life, but a brave Suffolk dad has today revealed how his daughter's wedding day turned into a nightmare.

After attending the ceremony in London, David Dixon tragically suffered a major head injury which doctors thought he would never recover from. But now, thanks to the amazing work of two Suffolk charities, the 54-year-old from Great Bricett is finally able to look forward to the future again.

His wife, Tina, 50, recalled the wedding day when he fell in to a basement: "It was the worst thing that could happen.

"We were walking back to our hotel and David was behind us. I went to say 'hurry up' then I heard a noise. I turned round and he wasn't there - he'd just disappeared.

"When we found him, he was lying on his back in a basement along the street, making some weird noises.

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"It was the stuff of nightmares. He was taken to hospital and we were warned to prepare for the worst after he'd had a brain scan. He had a fractured skull.”

Then thoughts turned to the wedding party. Tina said: "Originally I hadn't wanted to tell our daughter Kelly, and ruin her day completely, but we had to get her back to the hospital. She just fell apart, it was the worst thing that could have ever happened and it ruined her special day.”

The whole family's world was turned upside down in the hospital that day.

A distraught Kelly, 29, and her husband of just a few hours, Kieron Joy, 31, cancelled their honeymoon to Italy while everyone waited to hear news about Mr Dixon.

Thankfully he gradually got better, and after three weeks he was moved to Ipswich Hospital.

There he received treatment from Headway at Ipswich Hospital, and Stowmarket-based ICANHO as well as the support of his fitness-instructor wife and his son, Ben, 27, who moved to Suffolk to look after his dad full time.

David said: "I don't remember anything about what happened. I remember beforehand, having a wonderful day; it was an unusual wedding in London's Victoria and Albert Museum.

"But it is all a blur. All I remember is gradually getting better and better.

“Now I have little goals in my head that I strive for. I'm very lucky to be here and I'm lucky that I wasn't a bad person to start with; I was always fit and healthy.

“I feel I am learning to do things again that I took for granted before and it might even have made me a better person.

It has affected my life and everyone around me; in fact it was probably worse for them because when it happened they had to deal with the consequences. Before I thought I was indestructible, now I know that no one is.”

But he stressed that he couldn't have made the large steps he has, such as returning to work as a technical storeman for Serco, without the support of Headway and ICANHO.

And now he is planning an event which will give him a chance to support the charities which supported him.

He said: “I want to give something back, they desperately need money now.

“They were absolutely superb, everyone there was helpful and supportive, and I don't know how we could have done without them.”

Tina added: “It's thanks to all their work, that we can stop thinking of him as an accident victim.

“I feel like I've got my husband back, almost from being a vegetable and I'm over-the-moon.”

So David and Tina, who recently celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary, have organised an evening of clairvoyance on November 13.

Tina said: “We've never done anything like this before but I hope so much we can raise money to help them help more people. We are hoping to raise £2,000 to split between the two but we've never done anything like this before.

“The famous TV psychic Tony Stockwell is doing this event free of charge despite a very busy schedule and for that we are very grateful.”

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The evening of clairvoyance is taking pace on November 13 from 7.30pm in Ringshall Village Hall, Lower Farm Road, Ringshall Stocks.

Tickets, which must be purchased in advance, cost £15. To book call Jane on 01908 566619, e-mail janey@ki-lin.co.uk or visit www.ki-lin.co.uk/event>

David took part in various activities including cooking and swimming at Headway is based at Ipswich Hospital. They were designed to help his social skills, and get him used to being around people.

Helen Fairweather, the charity's chief executive, said: “The service we provide is vital to so many people as one person a week has an acquired brain injury in the Ipswich area.

“But we are financially struggling at the moment because our funding from Social Services has been cut, and we won't see patients as much which means we can't give the quality of care we'd like to.

“So we are really grateful when patients raise money for us. Anything is useful as currently we only have enough money to keep going for two years.”

One of Headway's aims is to help patients who might be able to return to work to speed up their recovery, and also to provide care so that relatives did not need to give up their jobs.

Weblink: www.headway.org.uk

At ICANHO, a Stowmarket-based Brain injury rehabilitation centre, David received speech therapy, physical training, occupational therapy and psychological help. It also provided a social worker to help him cope with the dramatic changes that happened as a result of the accident.

The centre offers community-based day rehabilitation for people with acquired, non-progressive brain injuries, including stroke, and helps people adapt to their new disability, relearn skills they may have lost, and work towards becoming as independent as possible.

Around 140 brain-injured people, their families and carers receive support from their service each year and the scheme is fully funded by the Suffolk Primary Care Trusts and Suffolk Social Care services.

Weblink: www.johngrooms.org.uk

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