A couple who have devoted 30 years to a charity which helps people with brain injuries have been nominated for a national award.
Bill and Stella Jackaman from Onehouse are nominated for the Stephen McAleese Outstanding Contribution to Headway Award to be announced at The Dorchester Hotel On December 5.
The couple launched West Suffolk Headway in Bury St Edmunds in 1985 after Stella had been working with survivors of brain injuries at West Suffolk Hospital, helping them move on after their hospital stay. Stella had lost her own father to a brain injury and this spurred her to help other sufferers.
With the help of hospital sister Sheila Sturgeon they set up the support charity and worked to secure funding and develop its vital services to support people with brain injuries. Under their guidance the charity received the Investors in People Award. Stella became one of the group’s first employees and became its manager and later president of the charity while and Bill served as chairman.
Today Headway House at Northgate Business Park is a thriving hub offering rehabilitation and support to its members and this year West Suffolk Headway and Ipswich and East Suffolk Headway merged to form a single service for the county.
Stella, 88, said: “It was very satisfying to see someone arrive in a wheelchair and then being able to walk out. When we started we only had a few pounds but we managed to obtain lottery grants and other funding. We’ve made a lot of friends over the years.”
While the couple have now retired from formal roles they hope to continue joining in the activities as long as health allows. Bill, 89, said: “Stella and I both feel incredibly honoured to be nominated for such a prestigious award. We have received local recognition for our work with the charity, but never been commended on such a large scale. It’s all very exciting.”
Pamela Nicholson, chairman of West Suffolk Headway who put the couple forward, said: “I have no hesitation in saying that Bill and Stella have truly dedicated their lives to West Suffolk Headway.
“Like most small charities we have had our highs and lows, particularly in relation to funding but Bill and Stella have been tireless in their efforts to create financial security for the group. They have made us proud and are without doubt a winning team.”