Hudgell Solicitors ambassador Paul Spence has secured official charity status for Paul For Brain Recovery – and revealed that England rugby league coach Steve McNamara has agreed to be official patron.
It caps off a whirlwind year for Paul, who is preparing to open a new community-based support service in Hull for people recovering from brain injuries in 2016.
He established Paul For Brain Recovery earlier this year with the goal of opening his own permanent support centre, raising more than £50,000 since through many fund-raising activities.
Last month, thanks to support of the NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group, he secured the premises needed for the new drop-in facility, in Wilberforce Health Centre.
Now, he has rounded off a remarkable 12 months by gaining official charity status from the UK Charity Commission (official charity registration number 1164620) and securing the former Hull, Bradford and England star McNamara as patron.
Such success in the final weeks of 2015 has left Paul bursting with pride, and feeling optimistic about what can be achieved in the year ahead.
“It has been a wonderful 12 months, with lots of great milestones reached over that time in terms of Paul For Brain Recovery, but becoming an officially registered UK charity is the most significant achievement by a very long way,” Paul said.
“Also, having someone of the stature of Steve McNamara agree to become our patron is massive for us, and I can’t thank him enough for getting behind us and supporting what we are trying to achieve.
“Getting to this stage is the biggest single achievement I have made personally since starting out on this journey. There are many hurdles to overcome when applying to become officially recognised as a charity, and it has been a difficult process.
“I went to many meetings at first, feeling out of my depth with business people talking about things I hadn’t really thought through. Lots of questions were asked, all important ones, and I quickly became aware that the registration and service wasn’t going to come easy.
“Ultimately, you have to prove the worth of the charity, the need for that extra support, and the impact you are going to have, so to now have that complete endorsement is fantastic.
“Also, the fact that I have managed to do this, with wonderful support from so many people again, provides yet another positive example to all those who find themselves in a similar situation to that I did three years ago.
“You can still go on and achieve great things in life, even though you have suffered a brain injury. If people said I’d be in this position two years ago, I’d have laughed at them.”
Paul has been supported through the process of securing charity status by Hudgell Solicitors, and 360 Accountants.
“Once again I have had fantastic support to reach this position, and I can’t thank all of my supporters enough, particularly Hudgell Solicitors and 360 Accountants, and my five amazing trustees who have been working alongside me with the development of the charity. Together we are building something special for brain recovery,” Paul said.
“With official charitable status and premises secured for 2016, the foundations have been set for us to start making a positive difference to peoples’ lives next year, and that is what the aim has always been to do.”
Paul, 35, was left facing a battle to survive when suffering a brain haemorrhage three years ago, as he had been the victim of a violent, unprovoked attack. His injury was caused after falling backwards and hitting his head on a ceramic floor.
His remarkable recovery has proved an inspiration to others across not only the UK, but also abroad, as messages flood to his social media pages. He has completed many gruelling physical challenges, including numerous marathons, over the past six months.
That has helped him raise more than £50,000, donating £30,000 to the Neurosurgical Ward at Hull Royal Infirmary, which nursed him through the critical stages.
Figures show there were more than 3,000 patients seen at hospitals in East Yorkshire in the two years from start of 2013 with acute or traumatic brain injuries.
In the year to May 2015, 609 patients had been treated for brain injuries, and Paul says these are figures which reflect the need for better community-based support.
The Paul For Brain Recovery centre will provide ‘Positivity, Awareness, Understanding and Love’ for those with brain injuries. Initially, it will be open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9am-5pm, and Wednesday evenings from 4pm-8pm.
It will offer guidance and support through inspirational talks on topics from coping strategies to healthy nutrition, recovery, motivation and well-being.
Associates of the charity, including leading brain injury specialists, will also provide support at the centre, whilst visitors will also be able to take part in a number of specifically designed physical and mental activities to help stimulate and progress their minds and memories.
All regular visitors will see their progress tracked each month to highlight steps forward in their recovery portfolio.
An opening date for the Paul For Brain Recovery centre will be confirmed in early 2016.