In July 2013, 23-year-old Bun suffered a traumatic brain injury, leaving her paralysed and unable to speak. After undergoing major life saving surgery, she was moved to a rehab unit and made excellent progress through physiotherapy, but this would end as soon as she was discharged. Bun’s mum Karen shares their story.

“When I heard the words ‘there’s been an awful accident’ I went numb. I stayed like that for a month whilst Bun was on life support. After 3 months in intensive residential rehab, Bun was discharged into my care. Her condition had improved, but she was still very fragile and there was no immediate support available to us.

A friend referred me to Sam Townsend at the YMCA health club in St Albans and as we discussed Bun’s medical predicament I instantly felt reassured. He talked me through the YMCA rehabilitation programme that was available to anyone that needed it, for as long as they needed it. Sessions were affordable, local and delivered on a one-to-one basis. Contacting Sam proved to be one of the most life-changing things that I have ever done. It was such a relief to know we would not be alone in getting Bun’s life back to ‘normal’.

Bun was nervous about attending her first session, this was a major new experience for her and she still felt vulnerable from the accident. Any apprehension was dispelled on arrival at the gym by the welcoming nature of all the YMCA staff. From that first day, Bun’s sessions with Sam and his team were the highlight of her week. They were such a huge help to Bun, even her vocabulary, memory and social skills improved. The benefits of her sessions became more significant and wide ranging than we ever imagined.

Bun grew in confidence and emerged from her shell. As a mother it was beautiful to watch my daughter develop from the unsteady, shy person who I so nearly lost to grow into a fit and active social character.

The whole experience has certainly inspired Bun to realise her life potential. One year on and she is training to become a fitness instructor with the YMCA – she isn’t surviving, she’s thriving.

Undoubtedly Sam and the YMCA staff have made a huge positive impact on Bun’s life and mine, too. Without their sensitivity and support Bun would not be the person she is today and for that I am incredibly grateful and immensely humbled. Everyone should be given the opportunity Bun was given”.

“It’s difficult to put into words what Sam and the YMCA means to us” Karen