The Eyes Alight appeal raises money for people with brain injuries who are supported by the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust (BIRT). Set up by Izzy Judd, the appeal offers the service users experiences to make their eyes ‘light up’ with pleasure during rehabilitation.

Before Christmas, each service was allocated a proportion of the current donations and they liaised with the people they support to decide how they’d like the money to be spent. Consequently, BIRT service users enjoyed many exciting activities, trips and purchases over the last few weeks and months.

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Graham Anderson House used the money to purchase sewing machines and bikes. The sewing machines have so far been a great success at the service, with an increase of participants in its sewing group which is a regular occurrence on the rehabilitation timetable. Linda, a service user at GAH, spoke of the memories using the sewing machine brought back to her; in the past she would often use her free time to make clothes for both her family and herself. The sewing machines and the bikes give people at GAH the opportunity to regain old skills, as well as learn new ones. Everyone is extremely grateful to the Eyes Alight appeal.

At Kent House, service users enjoyed a ‘Dining In’ event. A Christmas meal was put on for all, including volunteers, family members and staff. The ‘all inclusive’ event allowed for each and every service user to don their Christmas glad rags and get involved. Service users and staff were extremely grateful for the Eyes Alight money and the fun day it paid for.

Kerwin Court decided to purchase a Wii with their money from the appeal. They also bought some games for the console, including ‘SingStar’ and ‘Dance Party’. The console has been a popular evening activity at the service and they recently held a Saturday Night Karaoke session. It is also being used as a fun therapeutic tool, for example David, who isn’t keen on traditional speech and language therapy sessions, has been using ‘SingStar’ as a speech and language therapy tool. Additionally, the people supported at Kerwin Court can use the Wii to help reform relationships with their family as it is a way of making the experience fun and less daunting for their children.

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In Birmingham, at 1101 Bristol Road, service users and staff went out for a three course Christmas meal with the money. They travelled in a luxury coach to the restaurant, and everyone had an amazing time. One service user said: “The meal was lovely and it was enjoyable travelling around Birmingham in the posh coach.” Everyone wanted to say thank you to those who had donated to Eyes Alight as their kindness makes a huge difference to service users’ lives.

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The Eyes Alight money was put towards a visit from ‘Wild Science’ at Thomas Edward Mitton House. Service users, families and staff familiarised themselves with various animals, reptiles and invertebrates; from a chinchilla to a snake to a giant millipede. It was an exciting day for all involved.

Daniel Yorath House put the money towards Christmas presents for service users, along with a few electronic tablets and games for the House to share. The tablets and the apps they offer will benefit many of the service users at DYH. There were also numerous cinema trips to see the array of films that were on offer over the holidays.

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Redford Court used the money to hold their own Thanksgiving and carol concert in a local church. This was a lovely treat for service users and their families during the festive period. There was also a visit from singer Tony Blaney who performed a ‘Swingin’ Christmas’ at the service and a trip out for a festive meal. Additionally, as theatre trips are a very popular activity among people supported at Redford Court, the money was used to purchase tickets for numerous shows from ‘Hairspray’ to ‘Jersey Boys’ to the Cinderella pantomime. Michael Boardman, Family Liason Officer, said: “Thank you to Eyes Alight for their continued donations. The money enables service users to have a social side of rehabilitation and enjoy more quality of life experiences.”

At Osman House a number of trips are in the pipeline thanks to the Eyes Alight donations. Among the trips planned are a visit to the Emmerdale Studio Experience, which will be exciting for the numerous Emmerdale fans at Osman House, and cinema outings. There are also plans to put some of the money towards a pool table after service users suggested they’d like to start a pool group.

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West Heath House used the money to buy games and crafts to enjoy over the festive period. It was also used to treat service users and their families to a meal at the Westmead Hotel, as well as to entertainment afterwards from a saxophonist. Service users appreciated the day saying: “It was lovely to be able to have a nice meal together in different surroundings. Thank you for this opportunity” and “Big thank you – 10 out of 10.”

Jo Smith, Kent House Service Manager, summed up the gratitude that everybody at BIRT would like to express to Izzy: “We cannot emphasise enough our appreciation. In addition to raising two young children and leading exceptionally busy lives, Izzy and Harry never cease to show their appreciation for BIRT services. Eyes Alight is a wonderful initiative which has aided us in transforming the lives of so many by injecting some additional pleasures to service users’ rehabilitation experience.”

A bit of background

An estimated 1 million people in the UK are living with the effects of acquired brain injury as a result of deprivation of oxygen supply to the brain through, for example, stroke or traumatic brain injury, caused by a blow to the head. The resultant injury can affect mobility, speech, behaviour, cognitive ability, memory and judgement.

Izzy’s brother Rupert Johnston, who has a brain injury sustained in a car accident in 1997, lives at BIRT centre Kent House along with 20 other people with similar injuries. They, along with nearly 500 other people across the UK, in 13 centres, are supported by BIRT which is part of The Disabilities Trust, a leading national charity which additionally provides innovative care, rehabilitation and support solutions for people with profound physical impairments, learning disabilities as well as children and adults with autism.

Thank you so much for your continued support

You can make an online donation to the Eyes Alight Appeal or you can send a cheque made out to "The Disabilities Trust" to Helen Tridgell Head of Marketing & Fundraising,The Disabilities Trust, 32 Market Place, Burgess Hill, RH15 9NP, together with a note confirming that you'd like the money to go towards the Eyes Alight Appeal.