Sports stars who suffered brain injuries thank charity

This Is Wiltshire: Lead physiotherapist Clare Belmont, former professional rugby player Lee Audis, gold medallist event rider Polly Williamson and hospital manager Alison Woods Lead physiotherapist Clare Belmont, former professional rugby player Lee Audis, gold medallist event rider Polly Williamson and hospital manager Alison Woods

Two sports stars who suffered traumatic brain injuries have raised more than £10,600 for the centre which helped rehabilitate them.

Former professional rugby player Lee Audis, from Chippenham, along with Malmesbury-based gold medallist European event rider Polly Williamson, succeeded in running the 13-mile Bath Half-Marathon this year after having to learn to walk again following severe accidents in 2011.

Together they have raised enough to help the brain injury rehabilitation centre at Frenchay Hospital, near Bristol, buy an electric hoist and treadmill, which will allow the therapy team to get patients standing and walking at an earlier point in their rehabilitation.

Mr Audis played rugby for Doncaster Knights before he broke his skull in a car crash at the age of 23. When he was admitted to Frenchay he was unable to communicate, feed himself or sit without the support of three therapists.

It was another seven months until he was able to take his first steps, but he made an amazing recovery and by the time he went home in November 2012 he was walking independently with a stick.

Fifteen months later, in March this year, he completed the Bath Half-Marathon in four hours, 14 minutes.

Mrs Williamson was admitted to Frenchay in a wheelchair aged 41, with serious head injuries and three broken vertebrae, after her horse became spooked in high winds and fell on her. Before the fall she had won several gold medals.

When she was discharged after four months in hospital, she was able to walk independently with a stick, and, two years later she too ran the Bath event, finishing in three hours 54 minutes.

Joining them in the race were five of the therapists who have treated them during the past year.

Alison Woods, centre manager at Frenchay brain injury rehabilitation centre, said: “Polly and Lee’s participation in the Bath Half-Marathon is a tremendous achievement and testament to the hard work and determination that they showed during their rehabilitation.

“We’re very honoured that they decided to fundraise on behalf of the centre and our other patients.”

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