St Albans charity volunteer awarded after caring for brain-injured son

Lesley McGuire from St Albans received an award after spending nine years caring for her brain-injur

Lesley McGuire from St Albans received an award after spending nine years caring for her brain-injured son Keith and volunteering for Headway Hertfordshire. Picture: Headway - Credit: Archant

A 72-year-old charity volunteer from St Albans received a runner-up prize after dedicating the past nine years of her life to caring for her injured son.

Lesley McGuire was nominated for the Stephen McAleese Outstanding Contribution to Headway Award for her work volunteering for brain injury charity Headway Hertfordshire.

Her son Keith McGuire sustained a traumatic brain injury in 2010, and Lesley became his full-time carer and later went on to volunteer at the charity which supported him throughout his recovery.

Keith passed away earlier this year after a battle with cancer, but his legacy has lived on through Lesley and her determination to support others with a brain injury. She now runs a number of the charity's peer support groups.

Lesley said: "We're like a little family at Headway Hertfordshire. It's great to be able to speak to others who understand your struggles.

"Because brain injury is a hidden disability, people don't understand what you're going through. There's hardly any understanding about its effects so it can be difficult to find help.

"If I just stayed at home I know that I'd feel worse about my situation, but volunteering at Headway Hertfordshire has given my life purpose. I don't know what I would do without it."

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In the early days of Keith's recovery, he was able to access support from Headway Hertfordshire. He said: "Before I attended my first session at Headway, I thought to myself 'why am I going, what can they do for me when they don't understand what I've been through?'

"Back in those days I was extremely negative, but then after looking around and seeing others going through similar experiences, the penny dropped. I changed my opinion and I knew I was in a place where people could truly help me."

John Archer, chief executive of Headway Hertfordshire, said: "I decided to nominate Lesley on behalf of everyone whose lives she has made a difference to, and on behalf of her late son Keith as a way of thanking her for all she did for him.

"She's a one in a million volunteer and any charity would be lucky to have her."

Lesley received her prize at a ceremony on Friday, December 6, held at the InterContinental London Park Lane, Mayfair.