On Christmas Eve in 2019 Ian, his wife Bethan and their three children were walking back to their home in Cheshire when Ian was punched out of the blue by someone he didn’t know.
He was knocked to the floor in the assault and hit his head on the curb, causing a traumatic brain injury which lead to a blood clot in the temporal lobe.
Ian, 40, had his first brain operation on Christmas Eve and woke from a coma on Christmas day. He spent four days extremely confused and disorientated, which doctors discovered was due to brain swelling. Ian then had a second operation to remove a large piece of skull to alleviate the pressure on his brain.
Bethan then watched her husband lie in a second coma, this time medically induced, at Liverpool’s Walton Centre neurological hospital for the next five weeks. Tragically, when Ian woke up again he had forgotten who he was, that he was married to Bethan and that he was a dad to his three children Penny, five, Casper, three, and Rufus, two.
A dental nurse, Bethan had never taken any sick leave before, but knew she would now be forced to leave her job to care for her husband for the foreseeable future.
She said: “I couldn’t go to work and we were struggling for money.
“Even driving to the hospital to visit Ian had cost a lot of money, paying for the tunnel toll and parking.
“Ian was the one who worked full time and on my part time wage I couldn’t cover everything.
“After he came out of the hospital I became Ian’s carer.”
After spotting a leaflet for The Brain Charity in a family room at the Walton Centre, Bethan sat down with Vanessa, one of our information and advice officers, who talked them through the money the family was entitled to – including PIP, Statutory Sick Pay, ESA and grants.
Bethan said: “It was a relief to know there was a charity out there dedicated to people with neurological conditions.
“Vanessa was constantly professional though it felt like we were friends.
“She was constantly there for me, helped me apply for all sorts of benefits, put me in contact with a solicitor and even went along to my first meeting with them to give me a bit of emotional support.”
Though he has done a lot of recovering since the assault, Ian still has some paralysis in his vocal chords, is deaf in his right ear, he suffers from extreme headaches, can become very dizzy and disorientated so is yet to leave the house alone. He is also now waiting for another op to have a plate fitted in his skull, but Bethan said there have been lots of improvements.
She added: “He’s really strong, he can walk well as long as he takes it slow. He’s getting clarity of mind, each week as his head gets less foggy.
“He’s positive and determined about that future and especially determined to play with our kids as much as he used to.”
Inspired by the support The Brain Charity gave her, Bethan will be starting a degree in Public Health and Wellbeing this September.
She said: “I hope that doing it I’ll be able to help other people the way Vanessa helped me.”
In November 2020, Ian’s attacker was jailed for two years after pleading guilty to grievous bodily harm without intent.