As he says himself, he’s just one of thousands of people affected by, and living with, a brain injury in the UK – so his story is like that of so many others.
And it is with that in mind that the story of Paul Spence is so influential and so important.
The journey to recovering from brain injury
It’s a story of a life shattered by a sudden brain injury. A story of struggling to accept and understand what had happened to his life, and all of those close to him, and trying to piece that life back together again.
Thankfully, Paul’s story provides an uplifting and inspirational account of a journey along the long, hard road to recovery. It is full of positivity and optimism, and ends with a great feeling of pride and satisfaction.
A brain injury does not always mean the end of a quality life, the end of opportunities, or the end of being able to do special things and achieve personal goals.
Paul has recovered and succeeded more than he ever imagined since that fateful day in 2012, and that is what has made his story perfect for broadcasting on the big screen.
The documentary, “Running to Recovery”, which follows Paul’s three-year journey after his own serious brain injury and ends with him running four marathons in four days around the coastline of Ibiza, will be screened at Hull’s Cineworld in Kingswood, at 10am on Sunday, February 21st.
It’s another major achievement for a man who, over the past 18 months, has raised thousands for charity and inspired many people across the globe with his recovery, positive attitude, and desire to help others in a similar position.
Support for others with brain injuries
In 2015 he established his own charity, Paul For Brain Recovery, and is now planning to open a community based drop-in support centre in Hull for people with brain injuries later this year.
Paul also agreed to become an ambassador for Hudgell Solicitors, helping those with brain injuries that we support with one-to-one mentoring, understanding and advice.
Proceeds from the documentary will go towards Paul’s current fundraising for new equipment and planned support sessions in the drop-in centre when it opens, but he hopes it is the story of his recovery which will have the biggest impact of all.
“Everything I have done has been to support others who find their lives blown apart by a brain injury, and about sending out a positive message that things can and will get better if you stick at it and remain positive,” he said.
“Nothing could prepare me or my family for the battle of brain recovery and the difficulties it brought. I was home, but it was a real struggle and I had to be cared for by my family and friends. I faced a two to three year road to recovery, but was told I would never be the same again.
“That was hugely difficult accept or understand, and part of my identity was lost that day. I didn’t know who I was, or who I would be. It made for difficult time for me and my loved ones.
“I have thankfully come a long way since, but it’s a long, hard road to walk, and I just hope this film, which charts my progress, ending with me running four marathons in four days in really tough conditions in Ibiza, provides and inspiration to all who are facing any kind of struggle in life, not just brain injuries.”
Thinking back to his Ibiza challenge last year, Paul admits it was a gruelling challenge that was even harder than he’d ever imagined.
“If I am honest, it was far tougher than I had expected, and if I had been fully aware of how demanding each of the four marathon courses were going to be when I planned the challenge, I probably wouldn’t have taken it up,” he said.
“However, I did it. The aim was always to inspire people who suffer serious brain injuries and to show what can still be achieved. Giving up was not an option. I wouldn’t let the people down who were following my progress, and I wasn’t going to let myself down either.”
Paul spent five days in and out of consciousness and repeatedly suffered seizures on a high dependency ward in hospital after being the victim of an unprovoked attack in 2012. Doctors said he was lucky to be alive.
When he returned home to his loved ones in Hull, life was far from returning to normal, and it was only then that he, and those close to him, started to realise that a much bigger battle had only just begun.
Paul now hopes this movie helps others through similar tough times.
“It is tough road to recovery. You can rebuild your life, you just need to be patient, you need to stay positive, and you need support, as do all of the people around you, and this documentary shows that,” he says.
“I want people who find themselves in a similar situation to me to be able to look at what I have done, and where I am now, and feel there is light at the end of the tunnel. You can get better, but you have to stay positive.
“I can’t believe that I’ve now got a documentary being broadcast on the cinema screen, but it is another example of what you can achieve after brain injury. I really feel the film will be a powerful tool for me in helping many find positivity and belief when they are facing the toughest days of their lives.
“If my story can help just one person through that period in their lives, it will be something to be proud of.”
To book tickets, which cost £3 each, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul has made 20 tickets available free to charities in Hull who want to bring along people they are supporting, and feel may benefit from seeing his story. Contact Paul on the same email.