Gutsy guy 

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A local man who sustained a brain injury that left him unable to walk or cope with leaving the house has been shortlisted for a national award after rebuilding his life.

Cheltenham man Danny Reeves is one of just three people from across the UK to be named a finalist for the Headway Annual Awards in the Alex Richardson Achiever of the Year category. Before the injury Danny’s life was ticking along nicely. Aged 35, he was newly married to Ruth and they had not long had their first child, Oscar. The couple were running their own business, holding the license for The Pheasant Pub just outside the town. Things however changed dramatically in Sept 2009 when he contracted encephalitis after a nasty bout of chicken pox. After several weeks in hospital he was discharged to home, and life was completely unrecognisable.

The injury to his brain had affected his cognition and mobility and he became reliant on using a wheelchair. Due to the strains of living with the consequences of Danny’s injury, the couple lost the pub and their occupations. When the couple found brain injury charity Headway Gloucestershire in 2011 they were at crisis point. But with the support of his wife and the charity Danny slowly rebuilt his life. “When I arrived at Headway I was a broken shell of a man, After I had left hospital there were some very dark times, but headway helped to shine a light and guided me to a better place.” said Danny. “I just thought, for my family, I need to keep going, keep pushing myself to get better.

I owe much to Headway but also so much to my wife too. She has been so patient and shown me such love” He suffered another bout of encephalopathic illness in October 2015 where his early brain injury symptoms resurfaced. Shortly after his injury Danny talked about owning an arm bike or similar but with his fluctuating health problems the goal remained unmet for many years. However, in 2016, Danny took part in a local parkrun event – which encourages people around the world to take part in an informal run in their local park. Danny began to exercise and really pushed himself, going to training every week.

This determination has led to him being able to complete a 10k event, and in October, he even took part in Cheltenham’s half marathon. Danny was nominated for the accolade, which is sponsored by Slater and Gordon Solicitors, by Headway Gloucestershire’s Fiona Barnes. Fiona said, “Danny has pushed himself and shown such determination and courage”. She added, “He has been so brave and has worked so hard to continue to take small steps in his recovery. I really hope he wins the award.” Each year, Headway Annual Awards celebrates the exceptional efforts of survivors of brain injury and their carers.

Danny will discover if he is to be named Alex Richardson Achiever of the Year at a glittering ceremony at The Dorchester Hotel, in London, on Friday 8 December.