Caravan man Steven is a star

A SERIOUSLY ill Jedburgh man has almost single-handedly raised £35,000 for a specially-adapted caravan to aid the lives of people with head injuries.

Steven Turnbull, chair of the Heads Together group, will unveil the holiday home at Berwick-upon-Tweed next Friday, to coincide with Brain Awareness Week.

The 51-year-old started the charity three years ago after he suffered a brain haemorrhage in February 2009.

Despite subsequent health issues, including a brain aneurysm and the use of crutches, Steven finally managed to secure the cash after making 200 funding applications over a two-year period.

“Steven is a star,” said Aileen Knox, a senior rehabilitation worker with charity Momentum, which works informally with Heads Together.

“He pretty much single-handedly raised the cash himself. He also managed to negotiate the price down from £54,000 to £35,000 and is even volunteering to drive people to the caravan.

“Steven is very humble, but he more than deserves praise for his efforts.

“He is just desperate to help other people.”

Steven’s story began four years ago after the horror of his brain haemorrhage changed his life forever.

“It left me disabled,” he told TheSouthern. “All my confidence was gone, but then I started going to Momentum. They made me feel better and better about things.”

Just 13 months later, Steven set up the Heads Together group for brain-injured Borderers, offering day trips for its users.

The service has seen its client numbers rise from 12 to 25, but Steven wanted to do more.

He said: “I just felt I wanted to give something back to Momentum because they help us so much.

“The problem is, the supply of money for Momentum to spend on clients is getting less and less.

“So myself and my wife Ann came up with the idea for a caravan by the seaside for service users.

“We have got some service users who don’t get out of the house at all unless we help them.

“These people cannot work and are on benefits and can’t afford a holiday. I know myself what that is like and how difficult it can be staring at the same four walls all the time.”

So started the two-year campaign to raise the five-figure sum needed for the holiday home, with Heads Together, gaining charitable status to allow them to apply to a series of funding bodies across the UK.

The biggest contributor was Awards for All, with a £10,000 grant as well as £3,000 from the Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland.

Steven told us: “There are bundles and bundles of paperwork with these applications and I have spent many hours on the computer, but thankfully we managed to secure eight funders.

“It has been a lot of hard work and we are massively proud.”

The specially adapted caravan can sleep six people and includes a wet room, wheelchair ramps, central heating and a hoist.

And Steven, who also suffers from heart problems and mini strokes, wants as many people as possible to benefit from the facility.

“It will initally be for Momentum service users nationally, and our own users, but if it doesn’t get filled we will open it up to other disabled people,” he added.

“The caravan park is open for 40 weeks of the year, so that means 40 families could benefit, which will give them a huge lift.

“The cost is £150 per week, but that might still be too much for some of the users, so we hope to raise more cash so those people can use it for nothing.”

He added: “I am not positive about my own future, but I am for the future of the charity.

“We would like to see a drop-in centre created with computers for service users and a cafe so people can meet regularly.”

Anyone wishing more information on the caravan can contact Steven on 01835 862171.