Phil was completing pre-flight checks on his microlight ahead of his departure from Le Touquet in France. He didn’t notice the throttle was wide open. The aircraft suddenly went out of control dragging him around the airfield. The blades hit him in the head.
The emergency services airlifted Phil to a hospital specialising in major trauma – and an urgent message went to Phil’s family.
‘We were flown to Lille as quickly as possible’ his wife Heather explains. ‘The doctors told us that if Phil survived the night they would operate the following day’.
After 6 weeks in an induced coma, Phil came to and was flown back to the UK.
With massive brain injury, he had numerous problems. He couldn’t read or write, couldn’t see clearly anymore, had short-term memory loss and co-ordination difficulties.
‘It was when we went to Headway that the recovery really started,’ Heather says.
Phil still attends Headway’s peer support programme. ‘We all have different problems, but we’re all in it together. I know I’m not alone.’
Since coming to Headway (15 years ago!) Heather has been an invaluable volunteer. She says; ‘The help Headway gives is not just for those injured but also for their families. We can better understand what has happened to those we love. Then we can explain that to family and friends because those injured do change. Phil changed. The man we got back was not the man who flew off for what should have been a routine one-day trip.’
Heather finds that the high spots in her volunteering are she when talks to relatives of people who suffered a major brain injury. ‘They have usually heard that their loved one won’t be able to do this or that and I can tell them that hospitals don’t know everything. Phil is living proof of what can be achieved. I tell them there is always hope, there is help out there for them.’