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David's story A Life R...

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David's story A Life Re-written

David's story

My brain injury took me on a path I didn't know existed
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As part of Headway's ABI Week 2024 A Life Re-Written campaign, David shares his experience of how life changed after he survived a life-changing bike crash.  

In 2016, David Baker was cycling home from work, when he was involved in a serious incident. Now 49, David has no memory of the accident but has pieced the events together with the help of onlookers and photographs taken at the scene. 

He said:

As I was cycling along, a transit van overtook me and turned onto its driveway. I had no time to react, apparently, and I went head-first into the side of the van.

Despite wearing a cycling helmet that David said ‘100 percent’ saved his life, he sustained a traumatic brain injury, and his life was forever changed.

He’s now sharing his story as a part of Headway’s Action for Brain Injury Week, which runs May 20-26.

This year’s campaign A Life Re-Written, explores how brain injury can affect anyone at any time, focussing on how it throws plans into disarray and can even alter people’s sense of identity. The campaign is fronted by BBC The Traitors star Andrew Jenkins, who sustained a brain injury following a car crash and who interviewed David for a series of videos as part of the campaign.

At the time of his bike crash, David worked as a detective with Dorset police, but his injuries were so severe that he never returned to the force. As a result of his brain injury, David has severe visual problems, including double vision, meaning he needs to wear an eye patch to help with his balance.

Despite his challenges, David now wants to encourage other brain injury survivors to open up and to find new ways of living their lives, as he has.

“I think anybody who has a brain injury needs to have the support of other people, but you also need to do things that get you speaking about what’s happened to you. Getting on with life and socialising and not hiding away,” he said.

A few months after his crash, David’s family welcomed a new puppy into their home - something that would prove to be transformative for David.

Rapha, a border collie named after David’s favourite cycling clothing brand, became David’s constant companion and they would walk miles together each day while David took countless photos.

“That’s why he’s so special to me because we bonded so much in those times. We were never apart,” said David.

“A friend of mine gave me a camera, so I started taking proper pictures of Rapha and I started to really enjoy photography. I decided to enrol on a photography course – just to see how I’d cope because I get quite tired, I suffer from fatigue and struggle speaking sometimes. The course went really well.”

As part of his photography course, David created a poster on the importance of cycle helmets, which went on to be used by Headway in an awareness campaign.

Headway gave me a voice,” said David. “And if that poster stopped one person coming off their bike and cracking their head because they didn’t have a helmet on, then that’s great.

I later did a commercial photography degree at the Arts University in Bournemouth - that’s the way I see myself progressing now.”

Now a professional photographer, David has also provided the photography for Headway’s A Life Re-written campaign.

He said: “Anybody who has an accident that causes them to stop doing what they were doing before, I think it’s important that they challenge themselves to do something completely different and do something that they would never have had the opportunity to do.

For me now, my identity isn’t as a police officer, it’s as a photographer. I think without it, I’d probably dwell too much on the past and what could’ve been and what should’ve been, as opposed to what life can be now.”

Browse the links below to explore the campaign and the issues covered in this story.


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