Bristol Brain Injury Rehabilitation centre benefits from Vitality Bath Half Marathon

January 8, 2015 // Andrew


In March 2014, staff from the Frenchay Brain Injury Rehab Centre took on the Bath Half Marathon Corporate Challenge alongside two of their former patients and raised over £10,000 to spend on pioneering equipment.

The Frenchay Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre based in Bristol provides rehabilitation to patients with highly complex physical and cognitive rehabilitation needs. A team of physiotherapists from the centre entered the Bath Half Marathon Corporate Challenge after being inspired by two of their former patients: Lee Audis, a former professional rugby player for Doncaster Knights; and Polly Williamson, a gold medal winning European Event Rider.  Lee and Polly were both treated at the centre for severe injuries after Lee had been in a car crash which rendered him unable to speak, feed himself or walk. Polly had been thrown off her horse which made her unable to stand or walk by herself.

It was a long journey for both of them but their professional athlete mindsets gave them the sheer determination and relentlessness needed to lead them both to recovery.  In 2013, whilst in rehabilitation, Lee and Polly decided to give themselves a challenge by taking part in the Bath Half Marathon. Clare Belmont, the Lead Physiotherapist for both patients said that she would run alongside Lee and Polly as support.

Clare said: “As a thank you for the care they received when they were at the centre, Lee and Polly wanted to raise money for new equipment in the unit for future patients and to give them a challenge to work towards.

“As physio to both of these patients I said I would run it with them for support. When I mentioned it to other therapists who had been involved in their treatment they all jumped at the chance to be part of it too.

“We entered two teams into the Bath Half Marathon Corporate Challenge, ‘Team Lee’ which consisted of myself; Lee’s Occupational Therapist, Abigail Doxford; Speech Therapist, Che Ming Leung; Lee’s father, Tony Audis, alongside other family members and some of his fathers’ friends from Chippenham Rugby Club.”

The other team, known as ‘Team Polly’, consisted of their Lead Speech Therapist, Gerry Roxburgh; Lead Occupational Therapist, Donna Wilding; and Centre Manager; Alison Woods.  Polly also ran with her personal trainer, Olly Wakefield who coached and motivated her throughout the whole race.

Clare added: “The fact that they both managed to complete the distance was a huge achievement. Lee finished the race in 4 hours 4 minutes and Polly completed it in 3 hours 54 minutes which was a huge achievement for both of them so it was quite emotional for everyone at the end.”

The teams aimed to raise £10,000 to go towards new equipment that would dramatically improve the care that the centre could provide. Clare added: “We were all fundraising for the LiteGait which is an overhead walking harness and treadmill for those who are either unable to walk or stand without support.  With the £10,600 that we raised, together with some previous donations, we have been able to buy the first part of the equipment. It means we can get patients up onto their feet much sooner than in the past.

“If we had not taken part in the Bath Half Marathon Corporate Challenge with Lee and Polly as our focus, we would not have dreamed of being able to raise such a large amount of money in a short space of time, if at all. So for that we are very grateful.”

The Vitality Bath Half Corporate Challenge is a unique team building and fundraising opportunity for businesses and guests competing at one of the most popular city centre road races in the UK. The Vitality BATHALF is the largest single day charity fundraising event in the South West and the Corporate Challenge helps to encourage teamwork, fitness in the workplace and offers some competition between other businesses all whilst raising money for a good cause. 

In 2014, 53 teams took part in the BATHALF Corporate Challenge and raised over £120,000 for a wide variety of worthy charities. Entries are now open for the 2015 Corporate Challenge. For more information about the VitalityBath Half Corporate Challenge and instructions on how to get involved please go to:www.bathhalf.co.uk/entries/corporate-challenge.