Headway East Sussex celebrates 30th anniversary

Staff and volunteers from Headway, at the 30th anniversary celebrations

Headway East Sussex, the charity that offers rehabilitation and support services for people suffering from brain injuries, celebrated its 30th anniversary with a picnic for clients, their loved ones, volunteers and staff on Wednesday 18 July.

Set up in 1988, Headway East Sussex (formerly known as Headway Hurstwood Park) was founded by five Sussex families who recognised that there were no specialist local services available where brain injury was understood, or where long-term support was available.

Pam Marks, one of the founders, whose husband suffered a brain injury returned to celebrate its success. Pam said: “We started as a support group. This soon grew to about 3 – 4 separate groups. We soon realised we needed a day centre where our loved ones could be cared for and support provided for carers.”

Originally based at Hurstwood Park Neurological Centre in Haywards Heath, the charity moved to its current location in Newick in 1992. The property was gifted to the charity by Leonard Cheshire in 2002 paving the way for further development of the site including a purpose-built wheelchair accessible annex, gym, woodwork, art and craft rooms and client kitchen facilities.

Pam commented: “I am delighted with what Headway East Sussex has achieved. It is everything I hoped for.”

Over the 30 years, Headway East Sussex has gone from helping 5 families to helping thousands of brain injury survivors and their loved ones.

BBC South East Today were also in attendance

Brain injury survivor, Natalie Corrigan, was one of the 200 guests that attended. Natalie, from Crawley, was diagnosed with two brain tumours just a month after her dream wedding. She said: “When I’m at Headway East Sussex, I don’t have to explain and I don’t have to worry that the people I’m talking to are prejudging me. I feel welcomed, I feel loved. It’s a relief.”

Many survivors talked about how they felt accepted at Headway East Sussex and how the dedicated staff and volunteers understood what they were going through. In East Sussex, there are 3000 new hospital admissions each year for brain injury and Headway East Sussex receives in excess of 150 new enquiries per year. Injuries to the brain are typically caused by strokes, tumours, accidents through sport or in the work place, road traffic accidents or by assault.

Today, Headway East Sussex provide a full range of day services, offering tailored rehabilitation and reablement programmes, as well as a variety of advice and outreach support services to those affected across the whole of East Sussex including Brighton and Hove and the West Sussex border. They need to fundraise £100k per annum to provide their services. www.headwayeastsussex.org.uk; info@headwayeastsussex.org.uk; Tel: 01825 724323