A former British army sergeant who sustained a brain injury after slipping on a doormat will be running the Bangor 10K to raise money for the charity that helped rebuild his life.
Mark Woods, 43, dedicated more than 20 years of his life to military service. As an acting sergeant, he came face to face with life and death situations on a daily basis during his tour in Iraq.
You might assume that it was the high-risk scenarios Mark often found himself in that led to his brain injury, but in actual fact, it was the mundane act of slipping on a doormat that changed his life in an instant.
This month, Mark will be pounding the streets of Bangor to raise funds for Headway Gwynedd and Mon, the charity that supported him throughout his recovery.
In 2016, Mark was running errands in the house when he slipped on a mat near his back door. From his injuries, doctors believe that he hit his head on a table and chair, before finally colliding with the floor beneath him.
As a result of the fall, Mark had a small cut on his head, and his friends and family felt at ease knowing his injuries were minor. It was only when Mark’s condition started to deteriorate that his loved ones began to realise just how serious his injuries were.
Scans revealed that Mark had a fractured temple, as well as multiple bleeds on his brain. He spent a total of six weeks in hospital before returning home.
Following his discharge, Mark has had to come to terms with the effects of his injury, which include short-term memory loss, fatigue and communication problems.
Luckily, he has been able to access support from local brain injury charity, Headway Gwynedd and Mon.
“Everyone at Headway is in the same boat,” he said. “They understand exactly what you’re going through.”
Mark is now taking on his biggest challenge since his injury by running 10K to raise money for the charity that supported him throughout his recovery.
Despite Mark’s determination, his training has presented a number of unforeseen circumstances. For example, Mark has to run early in the morning or late at night to avoid having to speak to people during his training.
He said: “I have to run when there’s no one else around because my communication problems mean that I struggle to get my words out. I know what I want to say, I just can’t pronounce the words or string a sentence together properly.
“I have to avoid strangers when I’m running because I’m not in a position to explain why I can’t politely say ‘Hi’ or ‘Good afternoon’ like anyone else would.”
Despite Mark having speech and language therapy in the early days of his rehabilitation, he has been left with expressive aphasia, meaning he often struggles to use and express language.
During the run, Mark will be accompanied by his niece, two sisters and a friend’s daughter – all of whom will be on hand to help Mark cope with any challenges he faces along the way.
Mark said: “I know that this run will be a challenge, especially considering how difficult it’s been to train, but I’m looking forward to crossing the finishing line and raising money for a charity that’s so important to me.”