Tina Wescott, 51, has been caring for her father Larry since 1993 after he sustained a traumatic brain injury in a car crash. The incident meant she had to give up her job as a supervisor at Bristol railway station.
Recently Larry, who is aged 77, suffered a fall in the night and broke his neck in two places. To make sure it didn’t happen again, Tina slept on a sofa next to him for two years until she could afford to get the house altered. During this time she rarely got a full night's sleep, as due to his brain injury, Larry needed help to use the toilet - which was often 15 times a night.
Tina will join just two other finalists chosen from across the UK to be in the running for the title of Carer of the Year at the national brain injury awards ceremony organised by Headway – the brain injury association.
The accolade, sponsored by Barr Ellison Solicitors, will be presented at a star-studded ceremony at the InterContinental hotel in Mayfair, London, on Friday 6, December.
Tina said: "It’s wonderful to be nominated for this award. I look after my father because I love him, it’s that simple, but I would be lying if I said there haven’t been really tough, dark times.
“Getting recognition like this helps to keep you smiling and if I’m able to raise awareness of brain injury and what being a carer can be like – then even better still.”
Before the accident, Larry was a painter and decorator and in his spare time performed in pubs both as a stand-up comic and musician. He was a much-loved member of the community. But that all came to halt when he sustained a traumatic brain injury in a car crash.
The accident left him with paralysis, loss of hearing and no vision on his left side. He also has severe memory loss, fluctuating in mood and behaviour.
Larry spent nearly a year in the hospital before returning home, Tina would visit his flat every day and did all his washing, ironing, checking bedding, clothes, showering, shaving, meal prep, and managed his appointments.
In 1998 Tina and her two young sons moved in full-time with her father. By managing her time and working around her carer duties, she also works at her local primary school as a cleaner and dinner lady.
She said: “I love spending time with the kids and being part of the school. It’s a wonderful job and it means I get to socialise. Although it’s work, it gives me a break from my normal carer routine.”
In the last two years, Larry has developed low blood pressure which fluctuates during the day and goes extremely low during the night and as a result, Larry started having a lot of falls.
To keep him safe Tina slept on a sofa next to him for two years so she could get up and help him every time he needed the toilet, which was often 15 times a night. Whilst also having several operations on her kidney she has now converted the garage so she can sleep next to him every night and have easier access to the loo.
Tina was nominated by Polly Aspinall who works for Headway Bristol, a charity which has supported her family for decades.
Tina said: “Headway is a lifeline to our family and dad loves going there and socialising. It has meant a lot to me too as it’s a place where I can get support and advice. The people there understand what you’re going through and we all lean on one another – it’s vital to us.”
Polly, who works as at the charity based at Frenchay Park Road, said she nominated Tina after seeing first-hand how dedicated she is to caring for her father.
She said: “I have collected Larry once a week for the past two years and I have been blown away by Tina’s devotion, love, dedication and kindness. Tina does all of this with a unique selflessness that is utterly inspirational.
“Larry goes wherever Tina goes and she only has a couple of nights off a year, in fact he has only ever gone to respite once since 1998. She is a wonderful person and I’m so happy she has been shortlisted.”
The Carer of the Year will be named at a glittering ceremony at the InterContinental hotel in Mayfair along with awards for the Achiever, Volunteer of the Year and Campaigner of the Year, and the Stephen McAleese Outstanding Contribution to Headway Award.Back