Stratford man aims to rebuild his life after violent attack

Harry Hayward is still rebuilding his life after violent, unprovoked attack.

A HEARTFELT appeal by a Stratford-upon-Avon man who was minutes from death after an unprovoked violent attack in the Caribbean hopes his plea for help will eventually allow him to rebuild his shattered life.

Harry Hayward, aged 46, was left fighting for his life after the vicious attack occurred in Antigua as he walked home.

“In November 2015 I was assaulted in an unprovoked violent attack. I was working as a professional diver at the time and co-opening a brand-new dive facility and only into my third week on the island.

“I suffered a massive head injury causing a large left sided extradural hematoma (TBI) and was very aware of the fact that I was being told I was going to be dead in 20 minutes if they did not find the neurosurgeon on the island. My right arm had already stopped working but I was not aware of any significant pain at this time or the fact that my brain was being crushed by my own blood.

“My life was saved thanks to a wonderful surgeon and very good timing and luck that he was in residence; although I had been left with a large hole in my skull and a permanent fracture all around the skull leading to a very difficult and lonely recovery.  After three years I have just had a cranioplasty to fit a titanium plate and I am now a month out from surgery with no complications but a slightly bigger scar which I wear with pride and a very sore head,” Harry said.

For the last few years, Harry has been working part time cleaning B&Bs and generally getting his health and life back together but it’s not been easy for him.

“This has been very difficult with many emotional and psychological setbacks. I still have had no access to any kind of psychological treatment whatsoever but manage all of that through exercise, namely running every day. I live with complex PTSD and struggle with loneliness and frustration but I am determined to get back to the professions I love,” said Harry.

He’s set himself some important goals which he knows will help take him a step closer to the life he used to know.

Harry said: “I want to retrain by completing a fast track RYA Yachtmaster Offshore certificate and get my diving qualifications back up to date and in status if given clearance to dive again, so as to be able to create a steady income again with which I can support myself and work towards a better life. I have estimated that the total cost to do this and move forward is £20,000.

“In all honesty I feel rather uncomfortable with this approach to raising funds but the reality is with what I earn I am never going to do that and will continue waiting for psychological treatments that will never ever happen due to such massive waiting lists in the UK. I struggle with the bills and often have to choose between heating or food but I want more than anything to contribute to society again, to be useful, to raise a family and find happiness.”

Harry added: “Traumatic brain injuries can vary greatly; one person can have very obvious deficits; another’s can be very subtle. That is why they call it the invisible injury. Many people will look at someone post traumatic brain injury and think that they are completely normal as they look and act normally, having no clue whatsoever as to the level of anguish, fear, pure terror and a feeling of separation that they go through, let alone the very subtle differences there are to self-identity.

“Confidence and feeling worthy again are other great obstacles that need to be overcome and this is in my case done by getting up every day and trying to make it better than the last.”

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