Headway Suffolk

Ipswich Hub 01473 712225

Bury Hub 01284 702535

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:

Chris Tarrant to talk about life after a stroke at Neuro Conference

Copyrighted to Channel 5

TV and radio presenter Chris Tarrant has spoken of the importance of Headway Suffolk ahead of his guest speaking slot at the charity’s conference (on Wednesday) (writes Laura Nolan, of the Bury Free Press).

Mr Tarrant, who suffered a stroke in 2014, will join Stephen Hawking’s first wife Jane at the neurology charity’s fifth annual conference.

Mr Tarrant, who has supported the charity for many years, will speak out about his own stroke,

“It was fairly well publicised,” he said. “I’ve actually been associated with Headway now for well over 20 years.

“When I was working at Capital Radio I had a really nice letter from a bloke who said, ‘I would really like you to come and meet me, I was the CEO for a major company, but I had a road accident last year, which was not my fault. I am now being looked after really well by the people from Headway, I suffered a bad head injury, which has affected my speech, but my brain is still as sharp as ever, it’s very frustrating and I would like you to come and see what the charity does for people like me’.

“So I went to meet him and was very impressed by the set up. He was a lovely guy, but obviously had major speech difficulties brought on by his head injury, which had completely devastated his life, although he remained a really nice funny guy, married and had a couple of kids.

“So I’ve known about the work that Headway does for a very long time.”

The event is being held at Wherstead Park, in Ipswich, on Wednesday (16 October) from 9.30am-4.30pm.

Mr Tarrant was working on a series of Extreme Railway when he slipped and fell in an airport.

“Then I got on the plane, and then it started happening again,” he said, “I suddenly realised I hadn’t got the use of my right leg, or my right arm – after a while I realised that I was probably having a stroke. I also found that my speech had become distorted.

“It sounds ridiculous, but I just wanted to get home, back to the UK. I have seen situations where, because there was a medical emergency on board a flight, they touch down in another country, but if you look at a map of the world from Bangkok to London, I’m not sure where I would want to have been put down, Iraq? Iran? Afghanistan? You see what I mean?

“Anyway, I got to London, and I finally keeled over when I got to Heathrow Airport, they rushed me into Charing Cross Hospital in an ambulance and I was one of the very lucky ones, although it was touch and go for a while.

“I was released from hospital and after six months’ intensive physio and speech therapy I was back at work.”

Since his stroke, he has worked with Headway which helps stroke patients with rehabilitation.

He added: “I have had a lot of involvement with The Stroke Society since, and I do realise that I am one of the lucky ones.

“I have changed my lifestyle quite a lot – I don’t work anything like as hard as I used to, I am much more careful with my diet, I’ve reduced the long-haul flights and I’ve stopped drinking whiskey! I just have a few beers or a glass or two of wine.”

Mr Tarrant first got involved in television in 1972, when he joined the six o’clock magazine show at ATV. He then produced and presented Tiswas, the children’s series.

He joined Capital Radio in 1984, where he worked for the next 20 years doing the breakfast show in London each morning from 6am.

“It was a wonderfully happy period of my life,” he said. “I did quite a lot of television while I was on the radio, including Tarrant on TV, which ran for 10 years, and most famously Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, which was a huge hit in the UK, and goes out in something over 120 countries around the world.

“I still get asked if ‘I want to phone a friend’ just about every single day of my life.”

For the last seven years, Mr Tarrant has been filming Extreme Railways all around the world.

He is currently in Kenya, filming Kenyan Railways, which will go out early in the New Year.

Chief admiral nurse and CEO of Dementia UK, Dr Hilda Hayo, will also be speaking at the conference, along with Dr Charlotte Brierley neurologist at Addenbrooke’s and West Suffolk hospitals and Dr Muhibbur Rahman Chowdhury, stroke consultant at Ipswich Hospital.

TV health expert Robert Winston presented on the human body last year.

This year, Helen Fairweather, chief exeuctive, will give a speech on the charity’s services and its future.

Each week, Headway Suffolk supports 250 adults who have an acquired brain injury or neurological condition.

The East of England Co-Op, Ashtons Legal and Irwin Mitchell are sponsoring the event.

Tickets cost £40 and can be purchased via 01473 712225 or by emailing helenmfairweather@headwaysuffolk.org.uk.

Alternatively, tickets can be bought on www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/headway-suffolk-neuro-conference-2019-tickets-55527680788.

Charity Fun Dog Show – 23 October

A charity fun dog day is being held on Wednesday 23 October at Newbourne Village Hall by the Brainy Dogs arm of brain injury charity Headway Suffolk.

The fundraising event, which is being held in the half-term holidays, takes place from 11am – 3pm and will have Halloween-themed activities for adults and children with their four-legged friends.

Events in the main ring will include fun dog show classes, dog training demonstrations and a fancy dress competition. There will also be a Halloween dog trail, an obstacle course and hoop a dog activities throughout the day, with many great prizes up for grabs.

Sophie Wellum-Mayes, the Brainy Dogs coordinator, will also be on hand to discuss any problems people are having with their own dogs and put forward any recommendations.

Join the Facebook event page – www.facebook.com/events/578872299313771.

The Brainy Dogs service takes rescue dogs, who are then trained to become life-changing companion dogs to people with a brain injury or a neurological condition.

The training is carried out, under the guidance of Sophie, by prisoners at HMP Hollesley Bay and teenagers and adults whose lives have been affected by mental ill-health, exclusion from education and criminal behaviour. Trainers gain work experience and learn new life skills.

More than 70 dogs have been given a new start in life, providing much-needed companionship and support to people who, due to a brain injury or a neurological condition, may have experienced a personality change, which has impacted on their relationship with friends and family.

This year, Brain Dogs was shortlisted from over 700 National Lottery-funded projects into the final of the National Lottery’s 25th Birthday Awards. It was the only project from East Anglia.

IPRS Group staff prepare for London marathon walk in support of Headway

A group of 25 staff at independent healthcare specialists IPRS Group will tackle the London Marathon Walk later this month in support of brain injury charity Headway in Suffolk and nationally.

Staff at the UK-wide company, which is based in Little Blakenham, near Ipswich, have been taking part in a number of fundraising challenges and events this year to raise funds and awareness for Headway Suffolk’s services, as well as nationally for Headway UK.

On September 28, a team of 25 people from various parts of IPRS will come together to walk 26.2 miles of London’s streets – including past marathon runners, some keen walkers and some who have never dreamed of the distance – in their quest to raise a minimum of £3,000. Their sponsorship page can be found at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/teamIPRSmarathonwalk.

IPRS provides a diverse range of clinical products and services through its four subsidiaries, including IPRS Health, the health and wellbeing division of the group, which won the Customer Care Award at the East Anglian Daily Times Business Awards earlier in the summer.

Ben Beckwith, Wellbeing and Workplace Services Lead and Physiotherapist at IPRS Group, said: “The walking team at IPRS are now ready for 26.2 miles of the London streets in a bid to raise as much for Headway as we can.

“The team have been in training, which has given us the benefit of improving our health and fitness while highlighting the reasons we are doing it; for personal achievement, teamwork and above all, to help all at Headway and Headway Suffolk.

“We are excited for the main event and for having the finishers’ medals around our neck!”

He added: “We are a company with headquarters in Suffolk and with a workforce spread over the UK. As such, Headway was a perfect charity as we can support locally and nationally. We also have family members and friends who have directly been supported by Headway and they wanted to help give something back.”


David Crane, Communications and Marketing Officer at Headway Suffolk, said: “We are extremely grateful for IPRS Group’s commitment to support Headway’s services at a local level in Suffolk, as well as nationally.

“Relationships with local companies, such as IPRS, help us to raise awareness of the vital work of Headway Suffolk and the wide-ranging services available to people with brain injuries and neurological conditions and their families, such as our hubs, community support and clinical therapies.

“We are very excited to see their team working together to take on the challenge of walking the London Marathon route and achieve personal goals and fulfilment, while supporting a very worthwhile cause at the same time.”

Headway Suffolk has been granted planning permission to build the Stephen Hawking Neuro Centre in the Ravenswood area of Ipswich, an innovative new residential and rehabilitation centre, which is due to open in 2020.

Almost nine people every day suffer a brain injury in Suffolk, typically from a traumatic event, such as a car accident, as well as a stroke or a haemorrhage. This highlights the importance of Headway Suffolk’s work as a charity locally and the crucial services that literally are a lifeline for survivors.

To support IPRS’ fundraising challenge, visit the group’s Virgin Money Giving page.

Felixstowe Hospital service recognised in East Suffolk awards

The services Headway Suffolk offers to the community and patients at Felixstowe Hospital has been shortlisted as one of three finalists in the East Suffolk Business and Community Awards.

The charity, which helps local adults with brain injuries, stroke and neurological conditions, opened a service offering support and rehabilitation activities at the hospital one day a week over a year ago and soon expanded it to two days a week (Monday and Wednesday) due to its popularity and demand.

The service is open to inpatients and members of the community, so there is seamless care post discharge. Headway has been so successful in the hospital that it has been asked to open services in Aldeburgh Community Hospital and Hartismere Hospital in Eye.

As part of the East Suffolk Business & Community Awards, the public are invited to vote for their favourite community project to win the 2019 Enabling Communities Award, sponsored by East Suffolk Council.

The finalists for this award have been shortlisted from all the community projects that have received funding from the East Suffolk Enabling Communities Budget or Exemplar Grant over the past 18 months.

Voting is now open and closes on Monday 30 September. The winner will be announced at the awards dinner on Thursday 3 October at The Hangar as Milsoms Kesgrave Hall.

To vote for Headway Suffolk, go to: www.scbca.co.uk/awards/enabling-communities.

Dr Jane Hawking to speak about autism at Neuro Conference

Neurology charity Headway Suffolk is delighted to announce that Dr Jane Hawking will be a keynote speaker at its fifth Neuro Conference on Wednesday 16 October at Wherstead Park in Ipswich.

Dr Hawking, an author and teacher, returns for a third successive conference after last year comparing the difficulties faced by disabled people and their carers back in the latter half of the twentieth century with those they face today.

In 2017, she described her life and 30-year marriage to renowned scientist Professor Stephen Hawking, who died in March last year, and with whom she had three children.

At this year’s conference, Jane will give an overview on autism, which is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others. A person with autism means their brain works in a different way from other people.

Some people with autism can also have other problems, such as a brain injury or mental health issues, and Headway Suffolk is committed to providing appropriate support to those with autism and their families, and is working with Jane to establish this.

Jane is a patron of Headway Suffolk and regularly gives lectures across the world, most recently in Dubai and China, to raise awareness about the importance and unsung roles of carers to spouses with severe disabilities.

Dr Hawking’s updated 1999 autobiography, Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, was made into the 2014 Oscar-winning film The Theory of Everything. In recent years she has released novels Cry to Dream Again and Silent Music. She also has a PhD in Spanish poetry.

Dr Hawking is one of six experts who will present at the conference, which includes television and radio broadcaster Chris Tarrant, who will talk about suffering a stroke and his road to recovery.

Other speakers include; Dr Hilda Hayo, Chief Admiral Nurse and CEO of Dementia UK, who will talk about the care provided for the disease; Dr Charlotte Brierley, a neurologist at Addenbrooke’s Hospital and West Suffolk Hospital, where she will go through neuro examinations; Dr M Rahman Chowdhury, a stroke consultant at Ipswich Hospital, who will discuss communication difficulties and strategies; and Kate Harrall, principal speech and language therapist at Ipswich Hospital, who will present on the difficulties with swallowing.

Headway Suffolk has attracted huge interest in its previous four conferences, with TV health expert Robert Winston presenting on the human mind last year; author Jane Hawking talking about her life as a family carer in 2017, famed scientist Stephen Hawking making a rare public appearance to discuss his life with motor neurone disease in 2016, and local brain injury survivor Andrew Renton taking his first public steps in 21 years in 2015.

This year’s event promises to be another highlight in Suffolk’s calendar, with delegates also hearing from Helen Fairweather, Headway Suffolk’s Chief Executive on the charity’s services and future.

The conference is being kindly sponsored by East of England Co-Op, Ashtons Legal and Irwin Mitchell.

Tickets, priced at £40 each, can be purchased by telephoning Headway Suffolk on 01473 712225 or by email helenmfairweather@headwaysuffolk.org.uk.

Alternatively, tickets can be bought through Eventbrite by searching for Headway Suffolk or by going directly to www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/headway-suffolk-neuro-conference-2019-tickets-55527680788.

Further information can be found at www.headwaysuffolk.org.uk/events.

Brainy Dogs needs YOUR vote to win National Lottery award

Headway Suffolk’s Brainy Dogs is in the running to win an award for the best National Lottery community and charity project – and it is calling on the people of East Anglia and beyond to help make it happen!

The project, which takes rescue dogs who are then trained to become companion dogs for people with a brain injury or a neurological condition, has been shortlisted from over 700 projects into the final ten of the Community and Charity Award category in the National Lottery’s 25th Birthday Awards.

Headway Suffolk is the only group from East Anglia in the awards across all five categories.

As well as the birthday award, the winner receives £10,000 for its project and will appear on a BBC One awards show – providing immeasurable national television exposure for Brainy Dogs and Headway Suffolk as a whole.

To vote, go to www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/projects/view/brainy-dogs?context=vote. Twitter users can vote by simply by tweeting or retweeting the hashtag #NLABrainyDogs. Voting ends on 21 August.

Headway Suffolk chief executive Helen Fairweather said: “We are extremely proud that Brainy Dogs has got this far and we hope the public agree with us what a fantastic project it is and get behind it by voting for Brainy Dogs to win this prestigious, national award.”

Brainy Dogs takes rescue dogs who are then trained by prisoners at HMP Hollesley Bay, teenagers and adults whose lives have been affected by mental ill-health, exclusion from education and criminal behaviour, to become companion dogs to people with a brain injury or a neurological condition.

Trainers gain work experience and learn new life skills by training rescue dogs to provide life-changing support and become companion dogs.

Through the project, not only have offenders been given vocational training, more than 70 dogs have been given a new start in life, providing much-needed companionship to people who, due to a brain injury or a neurological condition, may have experienced a personality change which has impacted their relationship with friends and family.

With the aim of providing rehabilitation activities to meet individual needs, the project’s ambition is to improve people’s quality of life and provide a sustainable, growing and flexible service.

Headway Suffolk was awarded £350,000 in 2018 to run Brainy Dogs, which has enabled the charity to increase the number of people who train the dogs.


Brainy Dogs coordinator Sophie Wellum-Mayes said: “I feel Brainy Dogs has been such a success because of its originality, diversity and flexibility. If there is a way the dogs can help someone, we try our hardest to make it happen.

“The dogs calm clients in a way humans cannot. They do not judge and for many people, this is a rare feeling. We have been told that the dogs are a lifeline. They have stopped a couple of clients from ending their lives.

“They get people out into social networks, give them a sense of normality and something in common with others.”

Headway Suffolk supports 250 adults a week with a brain injury or a neurological condition through its wide range of rehabilitation, therapy and support services.