The opening of P.A.U.L For Brain Recovery Centre will be the start of a new chapter for me…and hopefully many others like me.

In just over a week I’ll stand in front of an invited audience of guests and officially open the PAUL For Brain Recovery Centre. Wow.

Just four years after suffering a brain injury which turned my life around forever, and at that time left me wondering if I’d ever have reason to feel positive again, I am now feeling on top of the world and excited by what lies ahead.

This new community support centre has come about because I experienced first-hand how difficult it is to adapt to life after a brain injury.

Once you leave hospital you find your biggest challenge is only just starting. A new and completely different life is in front of you, and finding it in yourself to accept your old life is gone forever is incredibly tough.

I also know that for every patient that has a brain injury, you may as well multiply that number by five in terms of how many people it affects within the community.

Nothing could prepare me or my family for the battle of brain recovery and the difficulties it brought. They were brilliant and did their best for me, but it was a complete change for us all, and a struggle.

I didn’t realise at the time, but my bonds with loved ones were non-existent. It was a really sad consequence of the injury. It’s probably best to describe me as a shell at that time. I wouldn’t say that I couldn’t love people, but I certainly couldn’t express that love and affection, and that must be a hugely difficult thing for a family to handle.

As a result of my experiences, and those of others I have come to know over recent years, we’ve really tried to focus the centre on providing the kind of support which I feel is lacking in communities for people when they leave hospital and start trying to rebuild their lives.

It means family support will be a key element, and the centrewill offer guidance and support through inspirational and motivational talks and educational sessions on topics from coping strategies to healthy nutrition, fitness, recovery and well-being.

Associates of the PAUL charity, including leading brain injury specialists, will also provide support.

Visitors will also be able to take part in a number of specifically designed physical and mental activities to help stimulate and progress their minds and memories, with all regular visitors having their progress tracked each month to highlight steps forward in their recovery portfolio.

When I stand and officially open the centre next week, I will be incredibly proud of what I have achieved and how I have pushed myself to do new things after a brain injury.

It has been a long hard road to get from the initial idea to gaining full charity status, and then actually opening the centre itself, but I will have done it. Thanks to amazing support from the hard working charity committe. Their efforts have been instrumental in developing PAUL For Brain Recovery. 

I have to also thank the many people who have supported my fundraising physical challenges and community events held over the past 18 months, and of course both Hudgell Solicitors, and the NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), who have provided invaluable support to my charity and in securing premises at the Wilberforce Health Centre, in Story Street, Hull, for the first 12 months

 In many ways it will mark the end of one very significant journey for me in my life. It has been the focus for so long, but it also marks the beginning of a new chapter in my life. Now I can really make a positive difference.

I hope people can look at me as an example of how despite life changing beyond recognition after a brain injury, it can still be a positive experience and you can still achieve and succeed.

I hope the road which has taken me to where I am today can act as an inspiration to others who find themselves where I was back in 2012, because back then I didn’t think there was anything to be positive about. Hopefully the centre, and the story behind its creation, can be a symbol of hope.

Most importantly, I know it will be a place of Positivity, Awareness, Understanding and Love. That is what the charity name of PAUL stands for.

That’s what we’ll aim to deliver to those rebuilding their lives, at all times.

• The PAUL For Brain Recovery Centre will be officially opened to invited guests at 1pm on Friday, April 15. It will be open to members of the public from 12-3pm on Saturday, April 16. 

• The service will be available from Tuesday, April 19, at 9am and will initially be open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9am-5pm, and Wednesday evenings from 4pm-8pm.