Headway Suffolk

Ipswich Hub 01473 712225

Bury Hub 01284 702535

Brainy Dogs Remote Support

Are you in isolation? Would you like something to look forward to? Then let the dogs bring a bit of joy into your life at the time it is needed the most!

We know this is a scary time for a lot of you and many of you face social isolation.

At Brainy Dogs we try and be as flexible as possible and we hope we can help you through it.

If you would like this remote temporary service then please complete this application form and we will be in touch as soon as we can.

Group closures due to coronavirus

The following groups are closed until further notice:

  • Bury St Edmunds (Mon – Fri)
  • Haverhill (Wednesday)
  • Felixstowe (Monday)
  • Aldeburgh (Tuesday)
  • Eye (Tuesday)
  • Dementia Ipswich (2nd Friday)
  • Dementia Martlesham (4th Thursday)
  • Dementia Castle Hill (4th Friday)


Coronavirus statement

Headway Suffolk – coronavirus statement

The safety and wellbeing of our clients, staff and visitors at Headway Suffolk is our top priority and we will take all necessary precautions to ensure their continued welfare.

We are actively monitoring the situation with regards to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and following the guidelines set out by Public Health England. We will keep all our services running for as long as the government permits.

Visiting hubs

If you have been to an area that has been directly affected by the coronavirus, or you are showing symptoms associated with the virus (fever, cough, shortness of breath), we ask that you DO NOT VISIT us and immediately contact NHS 111 for advice.

We also ask that anyone with symptoms of a cold, including clients, staff and visitors, that you DO NOT VISIT us as you will not be permitted to enter.

All those that do enter must abide by our infection control measures and frequently wash their hands. They must use hand sanitizers in reception or wash their hands immediately on entering the hubs.

We wish to reassure that we are taking all possible steps to minimise the risk of contagion and to protect the welfare of all our clients, staff and visitors.

We ask everyone at our hubs to carry out high standards of personal hygiene and follow advice by Public Health England to help prevent the spread of the virus, including:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • Put used tissues in a sealed bag and then in the bin immediately
  • Wash your hands with soap and hot water regularly
  • Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean


Jody runs London Marathon to thank Headway

Jody Smith is running her first London Marathon on 4 October to raise money for Headway Suffolk to thank the charity for their support of her father Gary following a stroke.

Gary, from Felixstowe, was 57 and working for Ipswich Crown Court when he suffered a stroke in January 2017, which left him with difficulties with his speech (apraxia), balance and movement, and cognitive functioning, as well as right-sided weakness.

Gary spent three months in hospital and underwent intensive rehabilitation as his family rallied round to support him and found the help of Headway Suffolk a lifeline.

“Life changed massively,” said Jody. “Dad went from working full-time to having carers four times a day. When he got home from hospital everything was different and chucked up in the air.

“He lost most of his speech, vision and hearing. He also lost mobility in the right side of his body and the use of his right arm.

“It’s taken until now to get his seizures under control and the medications stable.

“It affected the whole family. I had counselling at Headway and the brain injury courses were amazing. They made it easy to take in and understand. We learned so much. You don’t realise the depths of the brain.”

Gary started attending Headway’s rehab hub in Ipswich one day a week and soon increased it to two. He’s now a great encourager of others, and in December he was recognised for his progress and inspirational attitude at the charity’s annual awards dinner.


Jody said: “Headway is a home from home and it helps him massively with his apraxia and cognitive issues. It’s very important for his wellbeing and socialising with others. It’s a big part of his life.

“He loves Headway and the friendships and helping others. He’s happy when it’s relaxed with no background noise or pressure. He’s come on so far. He’s doing really well.

“He has had to learn to adapt and this has been hard, as well as accepting, I’m so proud of my dad’s attitude and progress to never give up and stay positive!”

At the awards dinner, Gary gave a speech with the support of rehab worker Katie Bird: “Thank you for all the help at Headway. My speech has improved a lot. My confidence has grown. I have learnt a lot. I’m very grateful for the support and help.”

Jody lives in West Bergholt and owns Feathers Hair Salon in Witham.

She was chosen by Headway Suffolk as their London Marathon charity ballot runner after taking part in Headway’s Cycle Ride and Walk in 2018 and in the London Big Half marathon last year.


Jody said: “I’m nervous but I’m looking forward to it. I felt honoured to be asked to run for Headway Suffolk as it means a lot. It’s important because, unlike big charities, you can actually see where the money is going and people sponsoring at the salon can see that.

“People open up in the salon and talk a lot about life and you share stories. When I talk about Dad they can see his photos on the mirror. I was able to recommend Headway to someone looking for support.

“Headway Suffolk has helped my dad, family and myself so much in his rehabilitation and holds a place very close to our hearts. We are truly grateful for all the help and support we have received.”

Jody started training in October and is part of Jogging Made Easy (JME) Colchester every Sunday. She hopes to run the marathon in under five hours.

As well as Jody, Gary has rock solid support from his two other children, Rebecca and Ashley, ex-wife Pauline and grandsons Noah (5) and Max (8).

David Crane, Headway Suffolk’s communications and marketing officer, said: “We are so proud of how far Gary has come with his recovery. He is a huge inspiration and positive role-model for us all, especially those who have gone through a life-changing event like a brain injury, stroke or neurological condition.

“We are very thankful to Jody for her passionate support of Headway Suffolk and we are thrilled she is running her first London Marathon while representing us. Her dad Gary will be her biggest supporter cheering her on every step of the way.”


Jody has already smashed her £1,000 fundraising target (with gift aid) but wants to raise even more money for Headway Suffolk. Her page is: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/constancefield.

Headway Suffolk is a registered charity that supports adults with brain injury, stroke and neurological conditions and their families through an extensive range of rehabilitation and therapy services.

Brain injury can affect every aspect of who we are and its physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioural effects can have devastating consequences for individuals and their families.

According to statistics by Headway – the brain injury association, there were 3,201 admissions (8.7 per day) to hospital in Suffolk with a brain injury in 2016-17. Stroke was the second most prevalent cause after head injury with 1,215 (657 male, 558 female).

For your brain to function, it needs a constant blood supply, which provides vital nutrients and oxygen to the brain cells. A stroke happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off and brain cells are damaged or die.

Join us for upcoming fundraising events

Brain injury charity Headway Suffolk has two fundraising events coming up in the next few months that it is encouraging supporters to take part in.

On Monday 9 March at 7pm, it hosts a Charity Curry Night at the Maharani Indian and Bangladesh restaurant in Ipswich, who are triple award winners in the Eastern region and rated 4.5/5 on Trip Advisor

For £20 per person, diners will have their taste buds tingling with a special sizzling hot menu.

Tickets are selling fast so ensure you book your place to avoid missing out! Contact Headway on 01284 702535 or email davidcrane@headwaysuffolk.org.uk.

Go to our events page to see the full menu.


On Saturday 16 May, Headway Suffolk holds its 12th annual Sponsored Cycle Ride and Walk – the charity’s flagship fundraising event.

The ride comprises 30, 40 and 50 mile routes through Ipswich, Felixstowe, Newbourne and Martlesham, plus a 10-mile walk through Ipswich town centre.

It’s an ideal team-building exercise for companies with the Headway Shield presented to the team that raises the most sponsorship. Registration is £10 or free if you gain a minimum of £10 sponsorship.

The charity are embarking on exciting plans to build a new hub and housing facility for Suffolk and last year 68 people braved Storm Hannah to take part in the Cycle Ride and raise £6,300 for the provision.


Among those were Tony and Leanne Baines, who propelled their 18-year-old son Mark, who is blind and deaf after suffering a brain haemorrhage as a young child, in his specially-adapted wheelchair bike around the course.

Leanne said: “It was hard work up and down the hills as Mark’s bike is very heavy, but it was a fantastic experience and everyone enjoyed it, including Mark, who was singing all the time! It was a great atmosphere.”

A large bulk of the cyclists were from Seven Group, an asset and property management company.

The group’s deputy MD Steve Cole said: “The weather wasn’t good for cycling, so we reduced the miles to 30 for safety reasons and everyone got round with no traumas or issues. Headway Suffolk is a great charity doing tremendous work and we’re very pleased to support it.”

Leading law firm Ashtons Legal also took part and Dave Richardson, their Customer Relationship Manager, said: “The weather was brutal and the strong winds made getting up hills double the amount of work than usual. But it was an enjoyable ride and we like supporting Headway Suffolk, so it makes it all worthwhile.”


Alicia Ray and Ellen Burman made it round safely with smiles on a tandem as they enjoyed the camaraderie and team spirit.

Alicia said: “It was a lot of fun and not as difficult as we had expected. We got a good rhythm and worked really well together. Other cyclists were asking how we were doing and giving us support. It was really friendly.”

Headway Suffolk is a registered charity that supports adults with brain injury, stroke and neurological conditions and their families through an extensive range of rehabilitation and therapy services.

Brain injury can affect every aspect of who we are and its physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioural effects can have devastating consequences for individuals and their families.

There were 3,201 admissions to hospital in Suffolk with a brain injury in 2016-17. That is 8.7 admissions per day. 1,318 were head injuries, 1,215 stroke and 421 tumours.

Go to our events page for all the information, forms and links.

Headway Suffolk supports call for more research into heading footballs

Headway Suffolk has backed Headway UK’s call for more research to be done after the Scottish FA announced it’s considering banning children under 12 heading a football.

The University of Glasgow carried out research and found that former professional players were three-and-a-half times more likely to suffer from neurodegenerative disease and be at risk of dementia.

Speaking on BBC Radio Suffolk, Headway Suffolk’s chief executive Helen Fairweather said: “The research that has been done is on six professional footballers, so they would have been heading the ball quite a lot. There’s no research, as far as I know, about young people and what affect that is going to have on them in the future.

“We have to apply common sense. We need to ask researchers to do more research in the future to find out whether dementia is a cause to people who are only playing Sunday morning football.

“If we say at the age of 12 you can’t head a football, what about when you’re 13 or 14 – is there the same risk? So I definitely think we need to call for more research.”

Helen also stressed the importance of the brain and the positive effects playing sports can have.

She said: “We only have one brain, it is us and who we are, and that brain has to last our entire lifetime. It does everything that we need to do – walking, speaking, and being able to breathe. So the brain is a very important organ and we want to keep it as well as we possibly can.

“Having said all that, we know that exercise and playing football is very good for the brain. So we don’t want to say to people stop playing football because if you’re not exercising, you’re high risk anyway. I think it’s the same with anything, it’s about balance.

“Dementia is a horrible, horrible disease and we want to do everything we can to prevent that. But we also need people to have a good quality of life as well and dementia is caused by a lot of different things and not just heading a football.”

Helen highlighted the risks we take in everyday life: “We take risks in life,” she said, “we do risks every day, but we need to weigh it up with the research and balance it.

“We see several people at Headway who’ve fallen down the stairs, but we climb the stairs numerous times every day. We would not think about putting a helmet on or stopping people climbing stairs, so we need to get a balance and weigh it up with their quality of life and the risks people are prepared to take.

“We have to have physical exercise. Cycling’s the same. I’m a cyclist and I take that risk. I wear a helmet. Other people would argue with me that doesn’t help. We have to make our own personal judgements in life and we are responsible for our own health.

“With rugby we have certainly said sit it out if you’re concussed, and don’t play contact sports for two weeks if you’ve had a concussion. So all sports we would be wary about if it’s damaging the brain.

“We know that heading a football repeatedly is going to cause the membrane around the brain to rupture. You could be knocked unconscious if you’ve headed a heavy ball and that’s going to cause you damage.

“But exactly what damage does it do, so if you’re playing football at school and you never play football again, have you already done that damage? Can it be repaired?

“We know the brain can repair itself, so is it possible if there’s damage early on, can it be repaired later on? We just need more research to prove what’s been said.”

The radio interview can be found at 1:34: www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p07y116b

EADT story: www.eadt.co.uk/news/should-suffolk-ban-children-heading-footballs-1-6472455

Headway UK statement: www.headway.org.uk/news-and-campaigns/news/2020/headway-reacts-to-speculation-of-ban-on-children-heading-footballs

New Understanding Brain Injury courses

Headway Suffolk is running two new Understanding Brain Injury courses for people living in Ipswich and Ely with a brain injury, stroke or neurological condition.

The courses are facilitated by Headway Suffolk’s multidisciplinary therapy team and help people to understand the effects of brain injury on themselves and loved ones. They address the emotional, physical and functional impact of brain injury and include a session on fatigue.

They run for six mornings and are followed by a date specifically for family and friends.

To find out more, go to our courses page.

Happy Christmas and New Year!

Everyone at Headway Suffolk would like to wish all our clients, families, volunteers, trustees, staff and supporters a very Happy Christmas and healthy New Year.

Below is a list of our Christmas opening and closure dates at our Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds hubs.

Mon 23 Dec – OPEN
Tue 24 Dec – Ipswich OPEN, Bury CLOSED
Wed 25 Dec – CLOSED
Thu 26 Dec – CLOSED
Fri 27 Dec – Ipswich OPEN, Bury CLOSED

Mon 30 Dec – OPEN
Tue 31 Dec – OPEN
Wed 1 Jan – CLOSED
Thu 2 Jan – OPEN

Join us in celebrating the achievements of brain injury survivors

Neurology charity Headway Suffolk will celebrate the achievements of people with a brain injury, stroke or a neurological condition in the county at its Awards Dinner on Thursday 5 December.

Every year, Headway Suffolk formally recognises significant progress made by three of its service users in their recovery over the past 12 months at its annual dinner, which again is being held at Shelley’s Restaurant, Suffolk New College in Ipswich, starting at 6.30pm.

On the evening, three individuals selected by Headway’s staff rehab team will receive an award:

  • Gary Smith, 60, from Felixstowe. Gary suffered a stroke in January 2017 at the age of 58, which has left him with left-sided weakness and speech difficulties.
  • Adam Smith, 40, from Woodbridge. Adam has improved his social skills and confidence, and made great strides with his fitness and mobility, after a hypoxic brain injury (a lack of oxygen) at the age of 36 led to memory loss and other complications.
  • Alan Moore, 68, from Badwell Ash, near Bury St Edmunds. Alan suffered a stroke at the age of 54, which has left him with speech and mobility difficulties.


Chris Tarrant speech highlight of Headway Conference

A fascinating speech by broadcaster Chris Tarrant about his experiences of having a stroke was the highlight of Headway Suffolk’s Neuro Conference at Wherstead Park on 16 October.

The TV personality, most famous for his presenter role on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, spoke about the side of his body going weak and his speech becoming slurred during an 11-hour flight from Burma five years ago, before collapsing at Heathrow Airport and being rushed to Charing Cross Hospital.

Chris said that he spent six months having intensive physio and speech therapy, and has gone on to make a full recovery. He was told by doctors that he had been very lucky and that the stroke had been caused by his life of “excess” – in particular, his workload and drinking, which he has significantly reduced.

The fifth annual conference also heard insightful talks from author and former carer Dr Jane Hawking on autism; Dr Hilda Hayo from Dementia UK; neurologist Dr Charlotte Brierley, who performed a neuro examination on stage; and Dr MR Chowdhury (stroke consultant) and Kate Harrall (speech and language therapist), both from Ipswich Hospital, about dysphagia.

Headway Suffolk chief executive Helen Fairweather updated guests about the variety of rehabilitation and therapy services the charity provides, as well as its plans for a new rehab hub and housing provision for Suffolk, named after Professor Stephen Hawking.

There were also speeches from Ashtons Legal and DM Orthoitics.

Brain injury survivor and Headway client Tony Blackwell captivated the crowds by producing a live painting during lunch, which was later sold, along with many of his other canvases.

The charity would like to thank all the distinguished speakers; the 200-plus guests who attended; hosts Wherstead Park; sponsors East of England Co-Op, Ashtons Legal, Irwin Mitchell and Slater Gordon; and all the trade stands.

The conference was covered extensively by local media, including BBC Look East and BBC Radio Suffolk. Available links:  ITV Anglia  |  Ipswich Star Bury Free Press

Click to view our gallery of photos: