I’ve made a few notes as I have a large hole in my right frontal lobe that reduces my short term memory. There again, I am the wrong side of fifty. Firstly thanks to – Wessex Neurological Centre especially Mr Duffield, the brilliant neurosurgeon, who stitched my brain back together. One week after my stroke I was 3 on the Glasgow Coma Scale – a deep coma or dead. The family was told “Unless something happened over the weekend they would discuss discontinuing life support.” This was as near to death as you could get without actually dying. I needed a stent for my exploded cranial artery and a VP shunt as I had hydrocephalus to drain excess fluid. As well as hyrocephalus I had meningitis, epilepsy, 7 lots of surgery and 3 ½ months in a coma! Generally not a good summer – and you try telling this to kids of today and they won’t believe you!

More thanks – it was Southampton Hospital that saved my life but Poole Hospital that gave me back my quality of life. Fantastic physiotherapy, amazing occupational therapy, wonderful nursing, all part of a team effort to reach full rehabilitation. Dr Burn, my neurologist, and his colleagues in the Neurology Department did an excellent job. And here I would like to say what a great facility we have in the NHS. All too often it receives criticism and negative press. It can’t be perfect. After the Indian railways, the Chinese Red Army and Walmart it is the fourth biggest employer of people in the world. If my stroke had happened in another part of the world chances are I’d be dead, the family broke, or both. We have a great free facility that provides life saving care when needed. Let’s celebrate it.

We need charities like Smile for Rich to help raise funds for these centres of excellence. Hopefully you won’t need their services, but unfortunately your family or friends may.

I won’t go on too much about my experiences. Here I’ll give a plug. I’m a few chapters into an e-book I’m writing: “A Bloke With a Stroke – the Hole Story”. Half the proceeds I will be donating to Southampton and Poole. Neil will be sending you all details when I’ve finished it. I ‘ve already raised £4,000 with my Triathlon and would like to raise a few bob more.

Before I end a few more thank you’s. My Mum & Dad and my ancestors for giving me a robust body able to withstand this major neurological trauma. Extra thanks to my Mum whom at the age of 50 I moved back with. Her love, care and support have been incredible. The same thanks to my daughter Sam and son Nick for everything they did. And all the rest of my family and friends, many who joined in for the cycling and walking. They’re not very good at swimming and we thought a sponsored drown was not a good idea. Again, this supporting group of friends helped enormously in my rehabilitation. Thanks to Neil Westbrook for all the effort he has put into this hugely worthwhile event. And lastly, but not least, thank you all as taxpayers who have contributed to my survival.