Headway Suffolk

Ipswich Hub 01473 712225

Bury Hub 01284 702535

Cycle Ride and Walk – Saturday 5 September

Headway Suffolk stages its 13th annual Cycle Ride and Walk in Ipswich and the surrounding area on Saturday 4 September to raise vital funds for its rehabilitation, therapy and support services.

The ride comprises three different routes – 30, 40 and 50 miles – going through the nearby area and each starting and finishing at the brain injury charity’s base on West Road in Ipswich.

The walk is a 10-mile disability-friendly route, again from its Ipswich hub, that goes through Kesgrave. Walkers will be able to enjoy refreshments at the half way point, generously supplied by The Bell in Kesgrave.

Like most charities, Headway Suffolk has been significantly impacted by Covid over the past year with its services severely restricted during lockdowns and its income drastically reduced.

Helen Fairweather, Chief Executive at Headway Suffolk, said: “After a very difficult and worrying year for the charity, we are pleased to have increased our services for clients as restrictions have eased.

“The Cycle Ride and Walk is a great opportunity to come together and celebrate everyone’s efforts in getting through the pandemic. There is always wonderful camaraderie and team spirit.

“All sponsorship raised will help us increase our range of services for people in Suffolk living with brain injury, stroke and neurological conditions and their families.”

The ride and walk is open to everyone and is an ideal team-building exercise for companies with the Headway Shield presented to the team that raises the most sponsorship.

It’s free to take part if you gain sponsorship of £10 minimum, or just £10 registration fee.

All participants receive a warm welcome and free refreshments at the finish!

Further information is available at www.headwaysuffolk.org.uk/events.

Last year, passionate cyclists and walkers responded to Headway Suffolk’s call for support by raising a fantastic £5,000 for the charity, including local businesses Timberwolf, Glemham Underwriting Ltd, Barnes Construction and Seven Group, an asset and property management company.

Seven’s group director Jackie Dunnett took part in the walk after her husband Roy Dunnett suffered a stroke and was supported by Headway Suffolk.

Jackie said: “The five-mile walk from Headway to the quay was really nice with great weather and we stopped for coffee at Isaacs. But the walk back was much more difficult!

“Headway were fantastic with Roy after his stroke, so it’s good to give some support back.”

Local brain injury survivor Anna Leggett also took part in the walk and said: “I felt quite emotional doing it, especially going back to Headway for the first time after three years when I was in a bad way during my rehab and realising how far I’ve come. I really am thankful to Headway for their support when I needed it.”

Dementia groups in July

Headway Suffolk continues to run social support groups for people living with dementia during the current Covid restrictions.

The group take part in a variety of stimulating and engaging activities, such as indoor games, cognitive exercises, discussions and social interaction.

It costs £7 per person, which includes a fish and chips lunch and refreshments. The person with dementia must be accompanied by a carer/partner.

When + Where?

The group takes place on Friday 25th June, Friday 2nd July and Friday 23rd July from 11.45am – 3.15pm and is currently held at Headway’s hub at Epsilon House, West Road, Ransomes Europark, Ipswich, IP3 9FJ.

Once Covid restrictions have fully eased in August, we will update on details going forward for the Ipswich group, Martlesham group and Castle Hill group.

Find out more

To find out more, contact Maureen Howes on 01473 712225 or email maureenhowes@headwaysuffolk.org.uk.

How support helped Sam Norris to study during lockdown

Teenage speedway rider Sam Norris has spoken of the support he received to help him study at home with a brain injury during lockdown, to mark Headway’s campaign for Action for Brain Injury Week.

Headway’s ‘A life of lockdown?’ campaign during 17-23 May focuses on social isolation after brain injury – a problem that has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The campaign aims to give a voice to survivors and carers to help them better explain to their friends and families the challenges they face as a result of brain injury.

Sam is a 17-year-old speedway rider from Linton, near Haverhill, who suffered a life-threatening brain injury in a crash in Glasgow in June 2019, but his incredible recovery and determination saw him back on a bike just eight months later.

After returning home from intense rehab to continue his recovery, Sam went back to school to complete his final year and GCSEs, but soon had to get used to home studying as lockdown began.

Sam had help from his mum Claire and the Cambridge Centre for Paediatric Neuropsychological Rehabilitation (CCPNR) – the first NHS community-based service in the UK offering assessment and neuropsychological rehabilitation for children with an acquired, non-progressive brain injury as a result of an accident, injury, illness or other condition.

He said: “Throughout lockdown I was lucky enough to be supported by the CCPNR. I had weekly Microsoft teams meetings around supporting and managing my fatigue and emotions and looking and understanding how it affected me physically, emotionally, and cognitively.

“Things suddenly appeared to make sense as it is hard to understand why you feel the way you do as I felt okay within myself most of the time.

“I still walk and talk differently now. My eyes display when I am fatigued and the way I speak alters and I have a language disorder.

“My thought process slows down, but I fight it every step of the way, but to people who do not know the old Sam they would never know what I have been through.”

After passing two of his exams, Sam is now studying motor mechanics at Cambridge Regional College and plans to move up to level 2 in September.

“Lockdown was hard looking at a screen three days a week as it affected my fatigue,” he added, “so I am glad we are sort of getting back to normal.”

Sam and Claire made their first public speaking appearance at Headway Suffolk’s Neuro Conference on 12 May.

The video of their speech is available to purchase for £15 to support the charity’s services.

The three-hour video also features presentations made at the conference from Dawn Astle, a prominent campaigner to prevent dementia in football, Dr Sajid Alam, the stroke lead at Ipswich Hospital, and Ellen Boucher, researcher at the University of East Anglia’s SCORES project.

To buy, call 01473 712225 or email info@headwaysuffolk.org.uk.

For more on Headway’s Action for Brain Injury Week campaign, visit www.headway.org.uk/isolation.

England rugby star Steve Thompson faced abuse for speaking out about dementia

Former England rugby star Steve Thompson has revealed that he has faced abuse for speaking out over the dangers of playing the sport.

Steve, who won the World Cup with England in 2003, was diagnosed with early onset dementia at the age of 42 and probable CTE – a degenerative brain condition that is thought to be caused by repeated blows to the head.

Steve was speaking to ITV Anglia ahead of being a keynote speaker at Headway Suffolk’s Neuro Conference on 12 May. He will be joined by Dawn Astle, Ellen Boucher, Sam Norris and Dr Sajid Alam.

The conference is being streamed online and tickets cost £20. To find out more and book, go to our events page.

To watch Steve’s full video interview, along with input from Dr Grey on his SCORES project. go to the ITV Anglia page.

Life now for Sam Norris ahead of Conference speech

Claire Norris has spoken of the frustrations that living with a brain injury can bring while remaining positive at the continued progress in recovery.

Claire is the mother of Sam Norris – the 17–year-old Suffolk speedway rider who suffered a life-threatening brain injury in a crash while racing in Glasgow in June 2019.

It was touch and go if Sam would survive, and the remarkable strides he has made in his recovery in less than two years has been a big influence on others going through the same situation and won him admirers globally.

Claire was giving an update on how life is for the family now ahead of her and Sam being keynote speakers at brain injury charity Headway Suffolk’s Neuro Conference on 12 May, which will be live streamed online.

“Sam is frustrated at the moment. On the outside he wants to get back racing and be able to drive, but it’s the hidden things that frustrate,” she said.

“He feels cheated as he was doing very well and he sees what others are doing on social media and he wants to be there. But he’s passionate about getting back to where he was and he’s so motivated and driven to prove that.

“A lot of people are affected by injuries. It’s still raw, you live it every day as it’s always there, but life moves on.”

Sam is currently studying motor mechanics at Cambridge Regional College and plans to move up to level 2 in September. But home studying during Covid hasn’t come easy.

Claire, a special needs teaching assistant and intervener, said: “It was quite a struggle. It was three days online looking at a screen and that was difficult for Sam with his fatigue. Fortunately I was also at home so I was able to help. Now he’s back at college two days a week with one day online and he loves it.”

As part of the practical experience for his studies, Sam has been working on the 250cc grasstrack bike on which he was unbeaten just two weeks before his accident.

Sam already returned to a bike on a GT140 eight months after the accident, and he now plans to race the 250cc bike for the first time on 20 June in a Classic Grasstrack Club meeting near Stansted on the second anniversary of his accident.

“Putting the engine back in has brought back a lot of memories,” said Sam, after the engine was taken out and the bike stored away on his return from hospital. “Seeing all the equipment again like the brand new framekick makes me realise how I lucky I am.”

The guidance and support of his father Chris has been integral in Sam’s mechanical learning at the family home in Linton, near Haverhill. Sam also supports Chris with the restoration of classic fighter jets.

“He always says ‘Dad makes things look easy’,” said Claire. “He’s teaching him all the way through, letting him take ownership and giving him the knowledge.”

While Sam remains focused on being back on the grasstrack bike in the summer, with the ultimate dream of returning to speedway when ready, Claire reveals the frustration at the lengthy process for Sam to be able to drive.

“We started the application to the DVLA in August and disclosed his brain injury. It’s a frustrating wait for Sam, because if he didn’t have the brain injury he would have had it by now.”

Fatigue remains the main difficulty for Sam day to day. “My fatigue is still there but it’s reduced heavily and now comes on at the end of the working around 4, 5 or 6pm,” he said.

Claire added: “Lockdown meant he could stay at home and this helped his fatigue. It’s still there, and if he was to have a grasstrack meeting at the weekend he would have to prepare for it the whole week rather than just the night before.

“What we want to emphasise at the Conference is that sad things happen and it’s fighting for the support you need. Every case is different. Looks can be deceiving. It’s very much a hidden injury but you can still achieve, even if it’s in a different way.”

Sam and Claire will talk about their experience in their first public speaking appearance at the Neuro Conference on 12 May, with Sam finishing with poem written by them both.

Tickets for the online event cost just £20 and can be bought by calling 01473 712225 or email info@headwaysuffolk.org.uk. Full details are on www.headwaysuffolk.org.uk/events.

Also speaking are:

  • Steve Thompson – former England Rugby world champion with 73 caps who has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia possibly due to the effects of playing.


Jill Brown

Headway Suffolk is very sad to receive the news that Jill Brown, a founder member of Headway Ipswich and East Suffolk, has died.

Jill’s daughter Nicky sustained a brain injury in the 1980s. When Nicky had her accident there was no help like Headway in Ipswich. They had to attend Headway in Colchester.

Jill and Ivan started Headway Ipswich and East Suffolk with Ken Plowright, at Backhamlet in Ipswich. They only had six members at that time.

They then went to the Arlington clinic, finally ending up in Pringle ward at Ipswich Hospital.

Jill and Ivan were very active in the beginning setting up meetings and fundraising.


Timberwolf raise over £2.4k for Headway Suffolk

The staff team at Timberwolf, the UK’s leading wood chipper manufacturer, have completed their year of fundraising for brain injury charity Headway Suffolk and raised £2,495.

Keen to support local charities, Timberwolf employees voted Headway Suffolk as their chosen charity for 2020 because they felt that Headway’s commitment to care for and rehabilitate those in need of their services was something they wanted to help with.

Little were Timberwolf, who are based in Stowmarket, to know of the challenges they would meet courtesy of COVID-19, and various fundraising events had to be cancelled as a result.

But undeterred, three sponsored challenges were undertaken over the summer months, which included their HR team each walking at least 84,000 steps a week over two months. Fortunately they were rewarded with some lovely weather!

Having hoped to enter various strength competitions in 2020, Timberwolf’s Product Marketing Manager Antony Alexander utilised his training to raise money by donating £1 for every KG he lifted on the three-standard power-lifting competition lifts – squat, bench press and dead lift.

And over one weekend in July, their Technical Author took on the Peddars Way, an epic walk of 46 miles, managing to complete most of the challenge on the Saturday!

Timberwolf also took part in Headway’s Cycle Ride & Walk event in September. The result of all this is a fantastic amount of money raised and hopefully all must have completed their challenges much healthier!

In addition, a Timberwolf Library was set up at the beginning of the year, raffles were organised in February and December and, together with numerous donations, meant that the final total raised at the end of a difficult year was an amazing £2,495.89.

Chris Perry, Managing Director at Timberwolf, said: “”It has been a privilege to be involved with Headway Suffolk throughout a very difficult year. Their work in the community has been tireless providing care for those in need and that support is now more important than ever.

“Without Covid-19 we could have done so much more. We wish them all the very best for 2021.”

Headway Suffolk is a registered charity that supports local adults living with brain injury, stroke and neurological conditions with rehabilitation, therapy and support services.

David Crane, Communications and Marketing Officer at Headway Suffolk, said: “We are extremely grateful to Timberwolf’s staff for their efforts in raising such a fantastic amount for Headway Suffolk’s services.

“To adapt the challenges they had planned and find new ways of fundraising through a pandemic is a real credit to their team and motivation to support Headway’s services across Suffolk.

“We simply could not survive, especially through a challenging past 12 months without the generosity of companies like Timberwolf, so we truly are thankful for their support.”

IPRS Group raise over £3k for Headway Suffolk

Headway Suffolk is very thankful to the employees of independent healthcare specialists IPRS Group after they raised £3,142 for the brain injury charity through various fundraising challenges.

The UK-wide company, with its HQ based in Little Blakenham, near Ipswich, adopted Headway Suffolk as well as Headway UK as its chosen charities for 2019 and kindly extended it to 2020 when the Covid pandemic struck.

The group provides a diverse range of clinical products and services through its four subsidiaries. IPRS Health, the health and wellbeing division of the group, helps over 50,000 individuals a year recover from musculoskeletal and mental health conditions and disorders.

Among the fundraising challenges taken on by staff included the London Marathon Walk, the Welsh Winter Swim, Hats for Headway, Dress Down days, 2.6 challenge, Great Run Ipswich Half Marathon and Discover Adventure.

Headway Suffolk is a registered charity that supports local adults living with brain injury, stroke and neurological conditions with rehabilitation, therapy and support services.

Ben Beckwith, Wellbeing and Workplace Services Lead and Physiotherapist at IPRS Group, said: “We are incredibly happy to have been able to help a local charity as well as the national arm of Headway in our little way, especially in such trying times.

“We have colleagues with first-hand knowledge of the fantastic work done by Headway Suffolk and we know the charity and its expertise will continue to help those in the area.”

David Crane, Communications and Marketing Officer at Headway Suffolk, said: “We are extremely grateful for IPRS Group staff’s efforts in raising such a brilliant amount for Headway Suffolk’s services.

“To adapt the challenges and continue fundraising throughout the difficult past 12 months is a testament to their motivation and team spirit.

“It’s been a tough year for Headway Suffolk. While we have managed to continue supporting our clients in different ways, Covid has had a big impact on our finances and we simply could not survive without the generosity of companies like IPRS Group, so we truly are thankful.”

England Rugby World Champion headlines Neuro Conference

England Rugby world champion Steve Thompson will be a headline speaker at neurology charity Headway Suffolk’s sixth annual Neuro Conference on Wednesday 12 May.

The 42-year-old, who won the Rugby World Cup with England in 2003, announced in December that he has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia and probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) – a degenerative brain condition that is thought to be caused by repeated blows to the head.

Steve and seven other former players, all aged under 45, are proposing to bring legal action against World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union in England and the Welsh Rugby Union over what they claim is their failure to protect them from the risks caused by concussion.

Steve, who was capped 73 times by England, cannot remember winning the World Cup and sometime forgets his wife’s name.

Neuro Conference Format/Tickets

The conference will be live streamed online securely and tickets are priced at £20.

Tickets can be booked by visiting our Events Page. You can also book by calling 01473 712225 or emailing helenmfairweather@headwaysuffolk.org.uk.

Further Keynote Speakers

Dawn Astle – campaigner for better safety in football

Dawn Astle is daughter of former England striker and FA Cup winner Jeff Astle and campaigner for better safety in football after Jeff died due to the concussive effects of heading a leather football.

After research found Jeff died due to CTE, Dawn and the family set up the Jeff Astle Foundation to raise awareness of brain injury in sport and to work with governing bodies to deliver independent research into the links between sport, brain injuries and neurodegenerative illnesses.

The links between dementia and football came to prominence recently with Sir Bobby Charlton being the fifth of England’s 1966 World Cup winning team diagnosed with the disease, which includes Nobby Stiles and Jack Charlton, who passed away last year.

Dr Michael Grey – Rehabilitation Neuroscientist

Dr Michael Grey is a rehabilitation neuroscientist at the University of East Anglia (UEA), specialising in neuroplasticity and neurorehabilitation associated with acquired brain injury, including stroke and mild traumatic brain injury (concussion).

He is Co-Principle Investigator with Prof Tony Belli for the Repetitive Concussion in Sport (RECOS) trial being conducted at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

Dr Grey is lead researcher into the UEA’s new project to test former professional footballers for early signs of dementia, which was announced last year.

Sam Norris – speedway rider and brain injury survivor

Sam Norris is a 17-year-old speedway rider from Suffolk who had to relearn to walk and talk again after being struck by a bike at 50mph while racing in a British Youth Championship in Glasgow in 2019, which left him in a coma.

Sam’s recovery has been described as remarkable by medics and his positive attitude and intense fitness regime saw him achieve his ambition of getting back on a bike again just eight months later, despite living with chronic fatigue.

Sam will be joined by mum Claire, a special needs teaching assistant and intervener, who is keen on highlighting the hidden effects of brain injury after struggling to get the right educational support for Sam, as well as how attitudes from others can change and the importance of safety equipment.

Dr Sajid Alam – consultant in stroke medicine

Dr Sajid Alam is a consultant in stroke medicine at the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation and a stroke lead at Ipswich Hospital.

He has a particular interest in the management of TIAs (transient ischaemic attacks or ‘mini-strokes’), hyper-acute strokes and the complex investigations often required after a stroke.

His main speciality is medicine for the older person, and his sub-speciality expertise is in stroke medicine, particularly in cryptogenic and young stroke.

Additional Info

The conference is being kindly sponsored by East of England Co-op, Irwin Mitchell, Slater and Gordon, CFG Law and Hodge Jones and Allen.

Headway Suffolk has attracted great interest in its conferences, with Chris Tarrant, Stephen Hawking, Prof Robert Winston and Jane Hawking as previous speakers.

Brainy Dogs vs Headway Clients challenge

Brainy Dogs (with Sophie) take on Headway clients in a virtual race challenge covering the length of Britain!

From 18 January, the two teams will compete to be the first to reach 201 hours of exercise, which equates to 603 miles – the distance between Land’s End to John o’Groats as the crow flies.

This is a fun challenge to help motivate Headway clients during a difficult time.

All clients are encouraged to take part and any form of exercise counts, so it’s inclusive for all.

Clients will pool their exercise collectively, while the Brainy Dogs and Sophie will be on their own.

Keep an eye on our website and social media channels for updates.

Please help to encourage our clients with a little sponsorship if you can: http://virginmoneygiving.com/fund/brainydogsvsheadwayclients.