48 fine hours in Devon

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It’s never nice to leave early.

It’s especially hard to leave early when you have spent 48 truly unforgettable hours seeing some of the best offered by mankind.

I arrived at the Maggie Sargent & Associates Community Case Management Services summer surfing retreat on Monday evening. Their website gives a good indication of the organisation’s mission: “The Maggie Sargent & Associates CCMS is a medico-legal organisation that was founded to.. provide expert evidence on the additional costs of caring for clients with brain injury and physical handicaps for both personal injury and medical negligence claims”.

For the purposes of full disclosure, Maggie & her husband John’s son Will is a friend of mine. It is also Will that has for some time insisted on how relevant to me the work is that his parents’ charity carries out.

Indeed, for the purposes of this early week séjour we were not friends but I a prospective client visiting MS&A CCMS. I myself suffered a TBI in 2017.

As expected, he was not wrong. I was bowled over by what I lived this week (I say lived because it feels more just to group myself with fellow brain injury sufferers; even if the weekend has reminded me of the total fortune of my bodily and neurological state six years on from my own head injury). To be honest, the headscratcher this week is why I haven’t come to see MS&A’s work sooner.

On Monday night, Will and I had a jolly pub supper with Adam and Hamza. Hamza is a 28-year-old who had had a head injury that, as with all of us there, had slowed down his neurological function. In Hamza’s eyes though, you could see the cheeky chappy that lay beneath; the mischief that had existed pre-head injury.

Then on Tuesday a swim started the day off in the exactly the right manner — the exercise endorphins combining with the minor shock to the nervous system of the cold water. The early dose of cold water really does put one in a good headspace for the day ahead.

Then to a different beach it was for a spot of accessible body boarding. The ingenuity of the MS&A caseworkers combined with the determination of the brain injury survivors was a privilege to behold. Again, I use the word ‘survivors’ because that is what these people (we) are — people refusing to be defined by their brain injuries.

Then that evening we all joined forces for a 30-person pub supper — a group supper always the way to congregate and celebrate. It doesn’t take much for me to feel touched — for the emotion bone in my body to be tweaked — but writing this as I sit aboard the train back to London, I have been enchanted by my visit to Devon. While I wish I could have stayed longer, I sadly could not.

I have 0 doubt about my feelings for this most wonderful of organisations though — long may MaggieSargent & Associates Community Case Management Services continue doing its wonderful work!