Brother and sister William and Alison Woods decided to run the 2018 London Marathon as a team because of their sister, Barbara (Barbie).
In October of 2017 Barbie was on the holiday of a lifetime touring China, having just retired, when she tragically fell off a wall and suffered profound brain and spinal injuries.
Following this devastating injury of their beloved sister, William and Alison decided to raise as much money as they could for further neurological research, to help the thousands of people like their sister.
For Alison, she understood the devastating impact of brain injuries long before Barbara’s accident, as the majority of her career has been spent in the field—for the past 18 years she has managed the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre in Bristol.
William and Alison on a training run
And it was at this centre that Barbie started her journey of recovery. Miraculously, after nine weeks in a coma, on December 28th Barbie started to speak again ("Ouch, No more Physio!" were her first words!).
This was the start of a journey for all the Woods siblings. As William and Alison went long, gruelling training runs in the depths of winter, Barbie was gradually regaining the ability to speak, move and ever so slowly gain her life back.
On 22 April, William and Alison crossed the starting line of the hottest London Marathon on record and ran a fantastic 26.2 miles for Barbie, finishing the iconic event amongst the thunderious cheers of thousands of supporters.
Through their fundraising efforts, the Woods’ raised an incredible £8,253 for Brain Research UK. Thank you, William and Alison!
As of June, Barbie is doing incredibly well and able to start to walk again. In this recent photo below she and Alison visited their Mum, traveling there in a standard car:
Even when your brain and limbs are all still intact, an injury to the spinal cord can mean partial or total paralysis, incontinence, and intense pain. Fortunately, Barbie’s spinal cord is still carrying the brain messages to her limbs.
It’s encouraging that Barbie is making such a wonderful recovery, and we wish her the best of luck as her rehabilitation continues.
This success is partially because of past ground-breaking research on the brain and spine— yet there is a long way to go. There are around 350,000 hospital admissions every year in the UK relating to acquired brain injuries and for many people, profound physical and cognitive impairments remain long-term.
Acquired brain injury is one of our current priority areas, and we are funding research to advance understanding of how to promote repair of the brain and spinal cord. This may be through behavioural interventions that stimulate recovery, medical interventions, or a combination of both.
We recently awarded funding to the following projects under this priority area:
- Dr Lawrence Moon, King's College London: Testing a new therapy to promote recovery from stroke
- Professor Sven Bestmann, UCL Institute of Neurology: How and when should we apply brain stimulation to aid recovery from stroke?
The Brain Research UK 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon team raised a staggering £518,000, which is the most the charity has ever achieved at this event.
Because of our runners, we were able to award funding to an extra PhD student this spring, and will also be awarding a total of £1 million in project grants this September, the largest project grant awards in our history. Thank you to all our runners, their families and friends for this achievement, and for helping accelerate the progress of neurological research.