After Geoff Sackville-Wiggins suffered a brain injury in a motorcycle accident, he was no longer deemed fit for his role as a community fire support officer and had to rethink his options.
Following his experiences, he aims to become a counsellor to support other people who had brain injuries and he is a committee member for the Lancaster and Morecambe group of brain injury charity Headway.
Geoff, who lives in Dock Acres, Warton, was in a coma for four weeks after the motorbike he was travelling on with his then 12-year-old daughter Nicola was involved in a collision with a Land Rover-sized vehicle in Carnforth.
Fortunately, his daughter only sustained a scratch to her knee, but Geoff, who was 33 at the time, suffered far worse injuries including damage to his right arm and a severe brain injury.
Ten years on, Geoff is still on a lot of medication but has come a long way since his accident. But he finds that fatigue is still a “major obstacle” in his recovery – something which many people who have suffered serious head injuries face.
The 43-year-old says: “Since the accident, my life has changed dramatically and I have suffered a lot from tiredness and I need to sleep a lot.
“It makes it difficult to hold down a job and it’s also an invisible symptom so other people don’t always notice it.
“I was assessed as incapable to complete my role as community fire support officer, so my contract was terminated.”
Following the accident, Geoff instructed specialist injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to support him in accessing the treatments, therapies and rehabilitation he required to help him get back on track.
He also became a member of Headway in Lancaster and Morecambe, which aided in his recovery and helped him gain confidence.
With an aim to train to be a counsellor, he started a course at Blackpool and Fylde College’s University Centre in 2015.
Sadly due to a discrepancy over funding, he was unable to continue but he is determined to pursue his dream and is looking at more accessible courses at UCLan or University of Cumbria.
He adds: “I managed to get into Blackpool and Fylde College’s University Centre in the hope of becoming a qualified counsellor for people suffering a brain injury.
“But because I was paying in cash, the university would not get any government funding so I could not finish the course.
“To say I was gutted was an understatement. I want to be a counsellor to support other people with a brain injury, as I have been there myself, so I am still looking at courses.
“A year later I enrolled at Lancaster and Morecambe College to train to be a nail technician, influenced by having twin girls and four step daughters who enjoyed their nails. I enjoy talking and thought that I would see if I could manage to do nails emery wise.
“I am on the committee of the Headway group in Lancaster and Morecambe after being introduced to them by Irwin Mitchell, and I have been the joint vice chair as well. I help instruct a couple of Headway members at the gym, alongside the qualified coach.
“I am determined to make my life the best I can, and the consultants who have dealt with me have said it is down to my fitness and stubbornness that I have been able to advance to where I am today.”
Sally Murphy, a Court of Protection lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Geoff, says: “The past ten years have been terribly difficult for Geoff, but his determination has helped him overcome a lot of the issues he faced following his accident.
“It would be so easy for someone in his situation to give up, but he has shown such strength in getting his life back, and I am so proud to know that we have helped him in some way. Hopefully others in a similar situation will take note of how Geoff has fought back and it will give them the confidence to improve too.”