A challenge to beat all challenges

Who would think that two young men on a two mile walk could raise over £3,600 in just one afternoon? Such was the courage and determination of two spine injured residents that, with the support from staff and friends at the Dean Neuro Centre, they achieved not just this amazing feat but also realised their personal goals too.

Alistair Holyhead and Alex Callaghan were both residents at The Dean Neurological Centre for several months. Alistair had testicular cancer and spinal metastases and was told it would be unlikely he would be able to walk up the aisle to marry his long term sweetheart this autumn. Alex lost all power and use of his legs following a life-changing motor cross accident earlier this year. Both were admitted for intensive rehabilitation at The Dean and have now been discharged from the unit, able to walk unaided and get on with their intended lives.

Whilst they were at the centre the men developed a natural friendship and devised a walking challenge to raise awareness of the specialist unit as well as funds for the Spinal Injuries Association charity who have supported and encouraged them during this time, too.

Without a walking frame or chair in sight, the pair stepped out from the centre of Gloucester on the September Saturday, cheered on by over 50 friends and family and walked nearly two miles back to a rapturous reception and party at The Dean. En route they rattled their cans and called in to thank the local businesses and restaurants who had sponsored them in various ways. Back at The Dean they then celebrated with a range of activities which Dean staff had organised to boost the fund raising. These included a pig roast, disco, raffle and tombola and a significant auction managed by Alex himself which alone raised around £500. Amazing prizes for this included a signed Rugby shirt and both an Aston Martin and Bentley driving experience!

“Everyone was so generous” said Gemma…The Dean’s Receptionist who was pivotal in persuading so many contacts to support the challenge. “Apart from the auction prizes, we were given lots of meal vouchers by local restaurants, treatments from hair salons and sports prizes, to name a few. It was just wonderful to have so much interest and support.”

And it was not just Gemma who enjoyed the event. One lady on respite care wrote to The Dean afterwards with the comment "The afternoon was superb, made even more so by the fact that the staff seemed to be committed and happy to give up their free time in order that the afternoon was a success”.

For Alex and Alistair the event was important to demonstrate to their family and friends the achievements of the therapies and care they received, and show their appreciation by raising awareness of the centre.