We recently donated a weekend away at the Wiremill as a prize for a fundraising event which was held in honour and support of Nick Stanley on Sunday 11th September. This is the story that encouraged us to help Team Stanley, told by his good friend and former colleague, Carina Talmey. 

After years of hard work at school and university, I was loving my new job as an Occupational Therapist (OT) at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London, but after a long illness which saw me out of action for nearly eight months, the thought of returning to work was pretty daunting. That’s when I met Nick Stanley.

Nick was a Locum OT at the hospital (meaning he covered shifts across a range of specialties – an incredibly competitive sector) and worked in the Trauma Unit, to which I was returning. Not only was he a fantastic colleague and OT, he also quickly became a great friend. He held my hand as I made a tentative return to a crazy world, stood by my side when I needed him and encouraged me to stand alone.

In the six short months we worked together, I learned more from Nick than I ever had from anyone. He rebuilt my confidence and left me believing in myself. He also helped develop my love for the Trauma Unit –  I am now the lead OT at my local hospital and am training to become a specialist in spinal cord injury.

You can imagine my horror when a few months ago, news reached me that Nick had been involved in a serious accident. He’d been knocked off of his bike whilst cycling to work and was left fighting for his life in intensive care. 

Against the odds, Nick bravely fought back from the brink. Tragically, he had sustained life-changing injuries. A severe spinal cord injury had left him paralysed from the waist down and further injuries resulted in him losing the use of his left arm. As a friend, I was devastated by his life had changed and as an OT, I understood exactly just how much.

But Nick had so many reasons to get better. His wife of nearly 3 years, Nicole. His little girl, Rylee-May. The unborn baby his wife was carrying at the time of the accident. An entire family and friends who loved him. And his patients of the future.

Having had such an impact on my life, I knew I had to do something to support Nick and his family in their time of need. They are always the ones that help others – now it was our turn. A close friend of the family set up a fundraising page and friends, family, colleagues and former patients flocked to offer their support. I wanted to offer something to help but I knew that if I put my mind to it, I could turn my donation into something more.

Cue the Team Stanley Fundraiser.

I hired a community centre, invited some friends along and wrote to local businesses, asking if they would be able to support the event in any way. I envisaged a raffle with maybe one or two nice prizes, a little cake sale in the corner and hoped to perhaps raise a few hundred pounds for my friend and his family.

It’s now three months later and I feel like I’ve taken on a second job as an events planner! With the support of my own incredible family and friends (particularly my loyal sidekicks Emma and Sam), we’ve created an event which we hope will be really special.

There’ll be a buffet, alongside the cake sale, a whole section for kiddies with a tombola, lucky dip, guessing games and face-painting (I offered to have them try a few faces on me – I now look as if I’ve had a bit of a dodgy tan!). There’s also a raffle so phenomenal I can still barely believe it. For even in a time when money is tight and business is tough, unbelievable generosity from local businesses has seen us create a raffle with over £1,000 worth of prizes! We’ve had so much support; we’ve had to put some of the prizes in a silent auction! With generous donations from people who can’t be there (and also monetary donations from some local businesses too), we also have a healthy fund – before the day has even arrived.

It’s schemes like the Random Acts Of Kindness project that make it possible for people like me to do things like this. They have helped me turn a little idea into a huge fundraiser. That in turn is going to make the most amazing difference for Nick and his family. The money can be used to help make their property accessible. It can take off the financial strain (neither Nick nor Nicole have been able to work for many months now, being stuck miles away from home with Nick in a spinal rehab unit). It can take away some unnecessary worries and it can allow Nick to focus on his rehab to regain as much independence as his injuries will allow. It will quite literally help change their lives for the better, at a time when they have had to face so many difficult challenges.

So thank you – family, friends, businesses. Thank you to projects like The Random Acts Of Kindness. Thank you for helping me help my friend.

Written by: Carina Talmey

Allie Abgarian