A Ceredigion woman who sustained a traumatic brain injury just months after her father’s terminal cancer diagnosis says volunteering has ‘made her feel whole again.’
Grace Vobe, 46, is a committee member for Headway Ceredigion, a charity that supports brain injury survivors and their families, and has shared her story as part of National Volunteers’ Week.
Grace left her home village Llanarth in her 20s and built herself a high-flying career in London.
But her world came crashing down around her when a passing cyclist head-butted Grace on her way to work, leaving her with a traumatic brain injury.
“It ended my career, right there and then,” she said. “Everything I had worked for disappeared overnight.”
But despite having sustained a serious brain injury, Grace discharged herself from hospital almost immediately.
“Just two months before my brain injury, my dad had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and was given six months to live,” she said.
“My mum had said ‘please look after yourself because if something happens to you, I can’t help because your dad really needs me.’
“I couldn’t have my mum receive the call that I was in hospital, it would have been too much for her.”
Because Grace discharged herself and moved back to Ceredigion, she says she didn’t receive any help or support and was left struggling to cope with the devastating effects of her traumatic brain injury.
“Sometimes I would be walking down the street and suddenly have no idea where I was, how I’d got there or where I was going,” she said. “It’s so scary to have no idea what’s going on.”
Eventually, Grace received an official brain injury diagnosis in Ceredigion and started to receive support. She first heard about Headway Ceredigion when she met committee member Lynda Allison at an information stall in her local Sainsbury’s.