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Brain injury patient helping others to recover

Billy Steele, 52, spent almost three years in hospital – including three months in a coma – after he was knocked down by a car in Glasgow in 2009.

Billy Steele with Helen Stewart, project manager of the brain injury recovery service (Chris James/PA)
Billy Steele with Helen Stewart, project manager of the brain injury recovery service (Chris James/PA)

A father who took almost a decade to recover from a devastating brain injury is now helping other patients to rehabilitate.

Billy Steele, 52, spent almost three years in hospital – including three months in a coma – after he was knocked down by a car in Glasgow in 2009.

After lengthy NHS treatment he was home but said he struggled to fit into normal life again.

“When you have a brain injury you are no longer the person you were before. You are, in a sense, carrying an invisible wound,” Mr Steele said.

“People suffer from severe memory loss and many individuals’ personalities change. You might be physically ready to leave the hospital, but for many the mental struggles they will face trying to rebuild a life and live with a head injury are colossal.”

The death of his partner Lee with cancer hampered Mr Steele’s recovery but he praised his two sons as his “beacons of hope”.

Struggling with confidence and socialising, Mr Steele finally discovered Quarriers Renfrewshire Head Injury Service which offers support to people recovering from serious injury.

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Billy Steele spent almost three years in hospital after he was knocked down in Glasgow (Chris James/PA)

After a series of sessions, Mr Steele now acts as an intermediary when Quarriers specialists first meet someone with a brain injury.

The 52-year-old helps to translate the way a person is feeling, identifying the appropriate type of care for them.

He said: “After spending time with Margaret McIntyre at the service, and seeing the different kinds of sessions on offer, she recognised my passion for helping people in my situation and asked if I would be a brain injury mentor.

“I know how scared people who suffer from a head injury can be for what’s to come and how to cope.

“I help people in this brutal situation find the Quarriers Head Injury Service and I’m here to bring them hope. You may no longer require medical treatment but that doesn’t mean you don’t need help.

“Once you’ve suffered from a brain injury you know you’re different. One night my friends and I were having a few beers and they were telling me about my best friend’s wedding because I had no recollection of it – they told me I’d been the best man, it was heart breaking.”

Helen Stewart, project manager at Quarriers Renfrewshire Head Injury Service, added: “Billy is an inspiration and a lesson in resilience.

“His life as he knew it was turned completely upside down in the space of a moment and he lost his entire identity.

“But he has turned it all around and is now a leading light for others, providing hope and joy to those who need it most.”

PA

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