PW go fund me

Help Phil rebuild his life after brain injury

Zoe Harrison is organising this fundraising appeal on behalf of Sarah Grice

28 November 2022. A date that Phil Wilson, his partner Sarah, and their families and friends will never forget.

At 5.25 p.m., as Phil prepared to head home at the end of another working day at Scarborough College, he suffered a sudden, life-threatening intracerebral haemorrhage. Thanks to the resourcefulness, quick-thinking and expertise of colleagues and NHS staff throughout that evening and the long night that followed, Phil survived against all the odds.

Put simply, the prognosis for Phil was ‘not good’. His chances of survival, even after emergency surgery at Hull Royal Infirmary, were slim. What the surgery gave him, in the words of his neurosurgeon, was ‘a fighting chance’. For several weeks, as Phil’s life hung in the balance in the ICU, there was no guarantee of any form of recovery; the only certainty was that it would be ‘a long road’.

Now, after nearly a year in hospital and neuro rehab, Phil needs your help as he continues his rehab journey.

For all who know him, Phil’s name has become inseparable from Scarborough College over the best part of six decades. Known and loved by hundreds of families, colleagues and friends who have experienced his teaching and coaching, been entertained by his humour, and benefited from his kindness and compassion, it’s no exaggeration to say he achieved legendary status within the school and its wider community.

From his formative years as a Lodge House student, to his ‘poacher turned gamekeeper’ decades as a teacher of Business Studies and Psychology, Phil turned his hand to a number of roles: a multi-talented and passionate sports coach, Housemaster, Form Tutor, Head of Tier and, most recently, Senior Master. He was always there for others and truly embodied the phrase ‘above and beyond’. If you needed someone to go that extra mile, often behind the wheel of a College minibus, Phil was your man.

After nearly 60 years, Phil’s entire life has been connected with Scarborough College, but Sarah had also become a valued member of the school community. An inspiring English teacher and Head of English, Housemistress and member of the school’s Senior Leadership Team she, like Phil, gave her all to the school. The events of 28 November 2022 resulted in the overnight loss of two key figures from the College community. Although it was not apparent at the time, Phil’s collapse at school marked the end of both their careers at a place they both loved and had imagined working in until retirement. In an instant, any certainty they had about their future together was gone.

The last sixteen months have been incredibly challenging for Phil and Sarah, but they have always felt encouraged and supported by the outpouring of love and support from family, friends and the wider College community. The early months of Phil’s recovery journey took him on a tour of Yorkshire hospitals: from Hull to Scarborough, then a spell in Bridlington, before he was offered an inpatient rehab place at Woodlands Neurological Rehabilitation Centre in York. Phil still remembers nothing of that time.

It was at Woodlands that the months of hard graft and incremental progress truly began, as Phil embarked on a schedule of intensive physio, occupational therapy, and speech and language therapy designed to help him regain function and some degree of independence, both physically and cognitively. As Phil began to slowly understand what had happened to him and the long-term implications of his brain injury, he also received counselling to help him process and come to terms with all the ways in which his life had changed

After nearly 9 months of intensive rehab, Phil was discharged from Woodlands on 20 October 2023. A day of much celebration but also trepidation. Being out in the world after so long was daunting for Phil. Adjusting to a life so very different to the one he remembers remains an ongoing challenge. His homecoming was daunting for Sarah too. She was at Phil’s side throughout his time in hospital and Woodlands, visiting daily and attending therapy sessions as his number 1 cheerleader, but becoming his full time carer without the safety blanket of the Woodlands team to rely on was a whole new challenge.

Phil’s months in rehab saw many little triumphs but he still needs a lot of help and support with daily living activities and accessing the wider world. His recovery thus far has already defied the odds but, despite acknowledging how far he has come, he still feels a long way from the man he was and remains focused on making further progress over the coming months.

To facilitate that progress and keep hope alive, Phil needs help to access specialist neuro rehab, expert optometry and the support of a neuropsychologist. Since leaving Woodlands, Sarah has searched to find the right people to support Phil achieve the best possible rehab outcomes, but their services come at a price. Throughout this life-changing experience, Sarah and Phil have always been mindful that, even in the darkest of times, there are always things to be grateful for, always people in worse situations, but the premature end to their careers, the subsequent loss of income, and the need to sell their home in Scarborough has left them with nothing to fall back on.

This GoFundMe campaign enables you to contribute to the following:

£100 = a counselling session with a consultant clinical neuropsychologist.
£125 = a 1:1 session of specialist neuro physio at MOTIONRehab in Hull.
£125 = an assessment and therapy session with a private optometrist.
£800 = to purchase a Rollz Motion Performance 2 in 1 all-terrain rollator and wheelchair.

Any amount you can give, however small, will make a difference. A donation of £10 will help cover weekly travel expenses; £30 will go a long way towards a physio session; £50 will support ongoing specialist optometry; £100 will cover the cost of an invaluable counselling session as Phil adjusts to life post-injury.

As a former schoolmate, colleague, parent of a pupil who Phil taught and mentored, and a friend for over 40 years, I am asking you to join with me to help PJ, and Sarah, as they face the challenges life has thrown at them.

Please donate what you can and share their story. The whole idea of crowdfunding has not sat easily with either Phil or Sarah, and they have taken some persuading. I have reassured them that ever since 28 November 2022 many of you have asked: what can I do to help and when? Here is your answer: support this campaign; the time is now.

Thank you for reading. Let’s do all we can to make sure Phil, PJ, Mr Wilson, PJW, Philippe feels the love as he continues on his rehab journey.

Zoë Harrison

On behalf of Phil and Sarah