Former Scotland international footballer Ian Wilson has launched a fundraising drive in an effort to deliver a personal thank you to those who helped to save his life.
Aberdonian Ian, who played for top English clubs Leicester City and Everton and who earned five caps for Scotland, has spent close to a year recovering after suffering a bleed to his brain in April and then a stroke.
The 61-year-old is now on the mend but believes that wouldn’t have been the case without the treatment and care he received from NHS staff working in various departments in the north-east.
It’s why he’s raising thousands of pounds to buy equipment to help treat others who have suffered brain trauma.
“It’s my way of saying thanks for the amazing care and support given to me by the NHS,” said Ian, who was also a youth player with the Dons and played in the Highland League with Elgin City.
“The NHS gets some bad press at times but I can only go by my own experiences over the last year and say they have some pretty remarkable people working for them.
“From those on the front line, who took care of me when I first became ill, through to the physiotherapists and all the other staff who have aided my rehabilitation, they have been first class.
“I wouldn’t be as well as I am today without their expertise, and wanted to show my appreciation in some sort of practical manner.”
He added: “The best way to do that is to provide equipment that will assist the NHS staff in their day to day work.”
“I accept the NHS isn’t a charity but if I can provide some of the equipment needed to help patients who have also suffered strokes or other brain injuries it might free funds that can be used in other areas.
“With the money raised we would like to buy specialised items which would be used by patients in the Acute Stroke Ward at ARI and at Horizons Rehabilitation Centre in Summerhill.
“I just want to give something back to the groups who did so much to aid my recovery.”
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More than £6,500 has already been raised from around 60 of Ian’s family and friends taking part in a 10k run along the old Deeside Railway Line in September.
A fundraising dinner will also take place at the Park Inn, Hazlehead, on Saturday February 1, with tables set aside so that some of the nurses and support staff who cared for Ian can come along as guests.
Ian said: “It’s the very least we could do and I’m hoping they enjoy their night and can help us add to the money already raised.
“No specific target has been set, but if we could get close to the £20,000 once we have done all that we hope to it could help to make a difference to the way the staff work and ensure others are able to recover as well as possible.”
As a former professional sportsman, Ian has always kept himself fit. He needed to be so he could run the long-established children’s coaching school that bears his name and which has given thousands of north-east youngsters the opportunity to play football since it was launched in 2003.
It came as a total shock to him when he took ill while attending a dinner hosted by Cove Rangers FC in April.
Doctors discovered Ian had suffered a bleed in his brain and he immediately underwent an operation.
Unfortunately, his health problems increased when Ian suffered a stroke a few weeks later while being driven to his home in Cults by his wife Tracey.
“It was a very worrying and frightening time for all of us,” said Ian.“I was feeling pretty good about how I was recovering from the bleed but then had a stroke. There was no warning.
“The medical staff are still undecided why the stroke happened, but I will be eternally grateful for the way they reacted to ensure I’ve been able to make the best recovery possible.
“The ambulance staff who treated me in the immediate aftermath of my bleed and stroke were brilliant. It was the same with the doctors and nurses during the weeks I spent in hospital in Aberdeen.
“I had no idea just how many people are involved when it comes to treating and supporting patients who have brain injuries.
“They are amazing, dedicated people, whose work doesn’t get the praise it deserves.”