On July 1 2018, Andy Nicholson, also known as The Brain Damaged Baron, was joined by friends and supporters around the world in a walk to raise awareness of brain injury.
Andy suffered a brain injury in 1994 while working on a building site in Germany. Since then, he has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the effects brain injury online and recently took this a step further by organising his own event to dispel myths about brain injury.
Andy said: “Organising #walkwiththebaron was largely an extension of what I have been doing online for two years now, making films and talking about living with a brain injury.
"Many of the contacts I have made in that part of my life were very supportive of the event and when I wasn’t online, I was making endless phone calls to various organisations trying to drum up support.”
However, raising awareness of brain injury, a disability which is often misunderstood, did not come without its challenges.
“The idea behind the walk was always to raise awareness of brain injury and therein lays a problem," said Andy.
"That very same lack of awareness presented some obstacles. People struggled to understand that I had a severe brain injury but I wasn’t bedridden, wheelchair bound or struggling with communication."
Not to be put off, Andy persevered with organising the walk. He shared his plans widely on social media and contacted local businesses for support. He met with his local MP Karen Lee to explain the difficulties of living with a brain injury and plans for #walkwiththebaron. The story was even covered by the local media including the BBC.
Andy’s tenacity paid off and on July 1 supporters around the world laced up their walking boots to #walkwiththebaron with events taking place in the UK, Switzerland, Australia and the USA.
“The day was enormously enjoyable," he said. "All sorts of people took part in their own ‘marathon walks’ from 12-year-old girls to a 65-year-old lady recovering from viral encephalitis. Although I have to say, finally finishing walking after eight and half hours was also enjoyable!”
As well as putting brain injury and its effects firmly on the radar of communities around the world, Andy managed to raise an impressive £1,169.97 (including estimated gift aid) for Headway and he’s not stopping there. He plans to continue his awareness raising campaign in 2019 with another walk to improve people’s understanding of brain injury.
“I’ve been banging this drum for years and I desperately want people to listen," he said.
"Spend five minutes in my shoes and you’ll understand the challenges of brain injury; what fatigue is, what confusion is, what anger is, what it’s like to have short term memory loss, to live with epilepsy, and not to be listened to."
If you’ve been inspired by Andy’s story and would like to organise your own fundraising or awareness raising event please contact our fundraising team on 0115 924 0800 or email@example.comBack