Brain injury man from Bury St Edmunds who ‘Had to learn everything in triplicate’ wins regional Adult Learning award

Neil Evans with Jackie Ayling
Neil Evans with Jackie Ayling

As he fitted a bath panel, Neil Evans turned to reach for his screwdriver and cracked his head against the hard ceramic sink.

It was late 2006 and was to prove a significant moment in the 39-year-old’s life.

Neil Evans with Jackie Ayling

Neil Evans with Jackie Ayling

Even now he suffers the effects of the brain injury he sustained.

But his battle to complete an access to counselling course at West Suffolk College in Bury St Edmunds, has now seen him win the Adult learner’s Week regional award for success in extenuating circumstances.

“I’m quite chuffed,” said Neil who lives in Bradfield St George.

Six and a half year’s ago he had been looking forward to his son Harry’s first Christmas when the accident happened.

“I felt punch drunk. Then after a couple of days my speech started to slur, I couldn’t walk and gradually became increasingly sick.”

Neil ended up in Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, having various scans.

He had ruptured a membrane at the back of his head, and bruised and damaged his brain.

“It was quite scary. They were saying if I even got a cold I could end up on life support as because of the hole in my membrane, it could turn into meningitis,” Neil said.

In fact that Christmas, his son first, Neil spent in hospital being monitored after catching a cold.

“I’ve reached a level now where I accept that it is not going to be any different.

“I still get headaches and my speech goes and I sound like I’m drunk.

“I can’t retain information very well so on my access course I had to write it, read it aloud and record it on a dictaphone to retain that information. I had to do everything in triplicate. It was incredibly hard work,” Neil said.

His tutor Jackie Ayling put him forward for the award.

Neil passed his course with merits and is now studying counselling and psychotherapy at the college’s University campus.