A dad who forgot his wife and kids after a Christmas Eve attack by a stranger in front of his horrified family has defied the odds to enjoy Christmas with his loved ones.
Ian Grimes was left with severe brain injuries after he was punched to the ground by a random attacker while walking back to his home near Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, last December 24.
Former process developer Ian, whose wife Bethan and three young children were with him as the family had been enjoying a day out in Chester, hit his head on the pavement so hard in the attack that Bethan thought he was dead.
He suffered a subdural haematoma – a blood clot on his brain’s temporal lobe – a fractured skull, paralysed right vocal cord and brain swelling, and was rushed to a specialist brain hospital in Liverpool, The Walton Centre, where he needed two life-saving operations and was put in a coma.
After briefly waking up on Christmas Day, when Ian, 40, awoke after another three days in a coma, he had forgotten who he was, that he was married to Bethan and that he was a dad to daughter Penny, five, and sons Casper, three, and Rufus, two.
“It’s a reminder I am a survivor! It’s a reminder there are so many wonderful people that rallied around to support me, my wife and children; not just those close to me, but complete strangers too.”– Ian Grimes
But incredibly, after three operations to remove pieces of his skull to alleviate pressure on his brain, and despite being left with severe tinnitus, hearing loss in his right ear, headaches, dizziness, depression, anxiety and amnesia, Ian is determined to enjoy this festive period to the full.
Over the course of this year he has relearned how to read and speak and got back into his hobby of music production.
And this Christmas, the family are looking forward to getting back to some of the annual traditions they missed last year, such as ham, baked camembert and homemade bread on Christmas Eve, with a special gift from Santa’s Elves for the children.
Moving forward one year on
Dad-of-three Ian said: “It’s coming up to a year since I was the victim of violence and its truly terrible consequences.
“I’m lucky to even be able to reflect on what happened at all.
“Christmas may never be the same, as it will always have haunting memories attached to it.
“It’s a strange time now – on one hand it is a reminder of the terrible trauma I, and my family and friends, endured.
“But on the other, it’s a reminder I am a survivor! It’s a reminder there are so many wonderful people that rallied around to support me, my wife and children; not just those close to me, but complete strangers too.
“Christmas is about remembering the positives of the year that has passed, being with the people you love and appreciating all that you have – which for me is such a lot.”
“Ian has lots of medical appointments due in the new year, but we are taking a breather from everything else to enjoy the Christmas break as a family.”– Bethan Grimes
Dental nurse Bethan added: “Ian is really strong, each week his head gets less foggy.
“He’s positive and determined about that future and especially determined to play with our kids as much as he used to.
“We didn’t think he would be this far along with his recovery.
“Christmas feels like a strange time now but we are mostly positive.
“Ian has lots of medical appointments due in the new year, but we are taking a breather from everything else to enjoy the Christmas break as a family.”
In November, Ian’s attacker Sean Jenkinson, 28, from Ellesmere Port, was sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty to grievous bodily harm without intent.
After Ian came out of hospital, Bethan became his full-time carer.
The family were supported by The Brain Charity, a national charity based in Liverpool which helps people with brain injuries and all forms of neurological conditions, to receive legal advice, financial support and information on dealing with a new diagnosis.
Mum-of-three Bethan was so blown away by The Brain Charity’s support she is now going back to university to study Public Health and Wellbeing in the hope she can help people the way the charity helped her.
The family are calling for the public to donate to The Brain Charity’s #Sixmas appeal to support the one in six people in the UK living with a neurological condition.
Help through the darkest of times
Bethan said: “It was such a relief to know there was a charity out there dedicated to people with neurological conditions.
“I hope one day I’ll be able to help other people the way The Brain Charity helped me.
“The Brain Charity is a wonderful charity made up of a compassionate and dedicated team who have helped my family and me through this terrible trauma.
“They help so many people in their darkest times, so I hope that we can all help them as they struggle through the pandemic.”
Ian added: “My recovery and rehabilitation, helped massively by family, friends, and professionals, has taken me to a place of relative wellbeing and I hope that continues.
“The show must go on, because survival is the name of the game.
“For my wife and I, our thoughts are with the people that are experiencing something like this now. It is truly devastating.
“We hope that they each have access to the support The Brain Charity have to offer despite the restrictions in place with the pandemic.”
A surge in referrals due to Covid-19
This year, The Brain Charity has faced a 70% surge in referrals due to Covid-19, despite many fundraising events being cancelled.
The charity is asking people from all over the UK to organise and participate in a sponsored virtual or covid-safe activity event themed around the number six, to highlight the fact one in six people has a neurological condition.
Alternatively, you can pledge to donate £6 a month to support the charity’s vital work, which also includes counselling and therapy, support groups and social activities for people with neurological conditions and their families and carers.
Tui Benjamin, Head of Communications and Fundraising at The Brain Charity, said: “There are more than 600 different neurological conditions in existence, including stroke, brain injury, dementia and many much rarer ones too.
“We are the only charity in the UK to be here for every single one of them, as we have been for the last 26 years.
“2020 has been an unprecedented year for everyone; and, as has been the case for many charities, we’ve been unable to engage in public fundraising events and activities in the same way we usually would.
“But at the same time, demand for our services has rocketed like never before.
“One in six people have a neurological condition, and more than ever need the life-changing support we provide.
“That’s why, this December, we are calling on anyone affected by a neurological condition in some way – most people will know someone living with one – to support our #Sixmas appeal.”
Supporters and fundraisers can shout about their donation or fundraising on social media using the hashtags #Sixmas, #ShareWithSix and #SupportingThe1in6 before nominating six friends to do the same.
Make a #Sixmas donation: https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/14666
Sign up as a #Sixmas fundraiser: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/sixmas
Read more about #Sixmas: https://www.thebraincharity.org.uk/whats-on/sixmas-appeal