top of page
  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Ballymena man who survived multiple brain injuries in running for national achievement award

Local man Graham Hill

Local man Graham Hill

A Ballymena man who is a “shining example to others”, is a finalist for a prestigious award from UK charity Headway – the brain injury association.

Graham Hill has sustained multiple life-changing brain injuries in his lifetime, including a brain tumour.


However, despite his challenges, he remains optimistic. “I just try to stay positive,” he said. “My journey's the same as everybody else's. We are all survivors; the only failure is if we don't try.”


Due to his astonishing attitude and determination, Graham is just one of three finalists for the Alex Richardson Achiever of the Year Award.


The accolade, sponsored by Slater & Gordon Lawyers, will be presented by Headway – the brain injury association, at its glittering awards ceremony on December 8 at the London Landmark hotel.

His journey began in August 2012, when Graham was diagnosed with a brain tumour and underwent surgery. The outcome was initially good, but he developed double vision and poor balance soon afterwards.

Graham also had daily bouts of sickness, due to Hydrocephalus (fluid in the brain) and when it was diagnosed, he needed further investigative surgery and then contracted Cerebral Meningitis.


Graham had a shunt (tube) placed inside his brain to drain the fluid and help it to be reabsorbed. After the first shunt failed, he underwent further surgery to fit another.


Consequently, Graham needed extensive rehabilitation before being discharged back into the community.

Graham Hill

Local man Graham Hill

Eventually, as Graham’s balance was improving, he was able to walk unaided, and so he returned to work, even getting back to cycling – although he was still a bit wobbly. After continuously falling off his bike, he changed to a mountain bike as it seemed to be more stable.

“With growing confidence in getting my balance nearly back to normal, I decided to do a lap of Tardree Forest, from my home to the forest and one lap around,” he said.

“When I got to the forest the towpaths were overgrown. I tried my best to avoid the overgrown brambles and thickets, before suddenly realising I was airborne - only coming to an abrupt halt against something solid and immovable, possibly a tree stump or boulder. I felt as if I was floating, serenely, seeing bright lights and stars in the darkness.”

Regaining consciousness, Graham discovered he couldn’t move or stand. He was discovered by walkers who called for help, and he ended up in Antrim Area Hospital. He later discovered he had compressed his brain stem and the required signals, already pre-weakened, were not getting through from either direction.


To this day, Graham’s injuries cause him immense challenges. He said:

“I would class my eyesight as definitely ‘diminished’, being double and blurred, and I’m unable to focus clearly on small items and text, but for me the most difficult issue I have is my lack of balance. This causes me the most concern and is the main reason why I cannot work like I used to and cannot ride my bike; instead, I use a tricycle. I also use a walker everywhere I go and fatigue very easily.”


However, Graham has made incredible progress, supporting and inspiring other brain injury survivors and continuously trying new things.


He was nominated for the Alex Richardson Achiever of the Year Award by Diane Wilson from the brain injury charity Headway Ballymena. She said:

“Graham began attending Headway and found it good for his mental health. It has been a lifeline for him.


"He attends every group session he can and is always first to welcome new members. He has thrown himself into the group and created a family more than an organisation of service users. Graham supports everyone on their journey, and everyone wants to see him do well.


"Graham is a shining example of not letting anything stand in his way. He tries every activity Headway has offered and excels at them. His partial sight loss did not hinder his skills at archery, and his inability to walk unaided does not stop him from completing many miles on his trike.


"To lose so much yet retain his positivity and sheer determination is worthy of acknowledgement. Graham would never expect a fuss or any recognition as he believes he is simply getting on with his recovery. He truly is an inspiration and will happily share his story with anyone who could benefit from hearing it.


"Being the trailblazer he is, Graham promotes inclusivity and accessibility wherever he goes.”


Graham added: “I can't believe I've been nominated, never mind being a finalist!”

About Headway

Headway – the UK’s leading brain injury charity – provides support, services and information to brain injury survivors, their families and carers, as well as to professionals in the health and legal fields. It has more than 100 groups and branches throughout the UK.


bottom of page