Ipswich: Stroke victim, 70, wins national volunteer award

A COURAGEOUS Suffolk woman has won a national award for helping others to rebuild their lives following brain injuries, despite living with the long-term effects of an injury herself.

Brenda Williams, from Flowton, near Ipswich, suffered a brain injury in March 2008 following a stroke and then lost her son Brett to a brain tumour later that year.

Yesterday the 70-year-old was named Volunteer of the Year by the brain injury charity Headway at a glittering ceremony held at London’s Dorchester Hotel.

Mrs Williams said: “It’s a great honour and I feel very privileged to have won. I’ve had a really great day in glamorous surroundings.

“I am representing a large number of people in the county and I’m delighted to accept such a prestigious honour.”

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Peter McCabe, chief executive of Headway, said: “Brenda is the type of person who will always put others first.

“It is incredibly rare to find someone who is as generous and giving with her time, energy and empathy as her.

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“Despite being beset with personal tragedy, she has never stopped her work in helping people rebuild their lives following brain injury.

“When she herself suffered a stroke, she simply stated that now she knew the practical as well as theoretical effects of a brain injury – and could therefore be of even greater help to others.

“That spirit of giving and unfaltering desire to help others is the reason why Brenda is Headway’s Volunteer of the Year.”

Mrs Williams first became involved with the charity in 1995, having been introduced to it by a service user to whom she was giving free speech and language therapy.

Her involvement grew and by 2001 she had been asked to serve as a trustee on the board of directors. Since then she has sat on regional and national Headway committees to help guide and develop the charity.

It was while Mrs Williams was at Headway that she heard the news that her son Brett, who was in his late 30s, had been rushed to hospital.

Doctors discovered he had a terminal brain tumour. In the last two years of his life, Mrs Williams was a supportive mother and still continued her hard work at Headway.

Further tragedy struck when, just weeks before Brett’s death, Mrs Williams was involved in a road traffic accident.

She suffered a stroke two days later and was in hospital for 13 days. Incredibly, Mrs Williams didn’t give up but remained involved with Headway, stating that now she knew the practical as well as the theoretical implications of a stroke.

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