Caring Dunbar man scoops national award

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A DUNBAR man who has devoted his life to caring for his brain-injured wife while also caring for their children, one of whom suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome, has won a national award.

David Knox, 63, has been named Carer of the Year in the annual national awards run by Headway – the brain injury association.

STAND-IN: Olympic Rowing hero James Cracknell hands over the 'Carer of the Year' award to Scotland regional co-ordinator Gaille McCann in David's absence.

STAND-IN: Olympic Rowing hero James Cracknell hands over the 'Carer of the Year' award to Scotland regional co-ordinator Gaille McCann in David's absence.

David’s devotion to caring for his wife, Anne, is such that he felt unable to leave her for 24 hours in order to collect his award at the glittering ceremony held at London’s Dorchester Hotel last Thursday.

With Anne unfit to travel all the way to London, David’s award will be presented to him at a special local ceremony in the new year.

In just one tragic month in 1992, David’s life was turned upside down when Anne suffered a devastating stroke just four weeks after her 40th birthday and only a fortnight after her mother’s death. Anne had been clearing out her mother’s house when she suffered the stroke.

Anne was in hospital and rehabilitation units for almost a year, during which time long-term care options for her were discussed. However, upon seeing the lack of appropriate care homes being offered, David insisted on quitting his job and caring for Anne himself, enabling her to return to the comfort of her home and family.

The stroke and resulting brain injury left Anne a changed person. Largely confined to a wheelchair due to one-sided weakness, Anne requires help with the most basic of everyday tasks such as washing, showering and dressing. In addition, she suffers from emotional and behavioural problems that can be challenging to cope with. However, according to David, Anne has retained her sense of humour and the couple still have fun together.

It was a difficult time for the family. The couple’s daughter, Isla, was just 13 at the time while their 18-year-old son Christopher suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome and needed constant support.

Life began to improve for the couple, however, when Anne began attending Headway East Lothian, a branch of the national charity that works to improve life after brain injury

Anne thrived in the company of others with similar disabilities while David was comforted in the knowledge he wasn’t alone and support was available.

David was so impressed with the charity, he even began giving his limited free time to helping other service users by taking them shopping.

“The way in which David has coped over the past 18 years is nothing short of inspirational,” said Peter McCabe, chief executive of Headway – the brain injury association.

“His love and devotion to his wife has not wavered; the fact that he is unable to attend today to collect his award speaks volumes.

“Brain injury can affect the whole family, not just the individual. But with love and support, people can go on to live happy and fulfilled lives.

“David is a very special person who deserves this accolade.”

The Headway Annual Awards celebrate the outstanding achievements and contributions of people with brain injuries and those working to support them. Other winners collecting their awards at The Dorchester Hotel in London were Dominic Hurley from Rotherham (Achiever of the Year), Rosie Wilson from Cambridge (Campaigner of the Year) and Brenda Williams from Ipswich (Volunteer of the Year).