IN June 2018, Annmarie Thomas from Llannon, Carmarthenshire, was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). GBS is a very rare condition that affects the nerves in one in every 100,000 people.
Annmarie, who works for Hywel Dda University Health Board as Head of Workforce Resourcing and Utilisation, spent six weeks in hospital receiving intensive medical care following the onset of GBS. Annmarie experienced severe pain and numbness which affected her legs, arms, face and torso as well as difficulty with her breathing, swallowing and vision. Because of the paralysis that Annmarie experienced, she was unable to move for the first four weeks of her hospital stay.
Annmarie said: “My symptoms gradually improved during my six week stay in hospital thanks to the fantastic care that I received. Following my discharge, my recovery was at home with the support of my family, friends and work colleagues. The physiotherapy service at Hywel Dda has been instrumental in supporting my rehabilitation and as part of my recovery I set myself a fundraising challenge in 2019 to give something back.”
During 2019, Annmarie, along with many family, friends and work colleagues, raised an incredible £9,200 for the physiotherapy service that played such an important part in her recovery.
Annmarie’s fundraising started in January 2019 when she decided to have an alcohol free year and raise funds through sponsorship. Annmarie also encouraged friends, family and colleagues to join her to remain alcohol free throughout 2019.
Annmarie’s fundraising didn’t stop there and throughout 2019 a number of events were held:
➢ Curry & Quiz Night: a fantastic evening was held at Tumble Hall with over 250 “brainboxes” taking part.
➢ Farm Tea, Talk & Tour: Annmarie’s mother Jackie Lewis, welcomed visitors to her home at Coed Cyw Fawr Farm to enjoy an afternoon team and a guided tour of the farm with amazing views and an interesting history.
➢ Cardiff Half Marathon 2019: Dylan and Sion Davies ran the Cardiff Half and donated the monies they raised.
➢ Christmas Decoration Stalls: family and friends got busy knitting and the unique handmade decorations were sold at local fetes with Annmarie’s son Lewis becoming a great salesperson on the stalls!
➢ Raffle –Annmarie’s work colleagues at Hafan Derwen, Carmarthen organised a raffle to support her fundraising.
➢ S4C Prynhawn Da appearance: Annmarie and Physiotherapist Indeg Jameson appeared on the popular daytime programme to raise awareness of GBS and the importance of physiotherapy to aid a patient’s journey of recovery. A donation was kindly made to Annmarie’s fundraising.
Thanks to Annmarie’s fundraising, the physiotherapy service has been able to purchase an Active Passive Trainer that is being used to support the recovery of patients with GBS and other neurological conditions. The trainer is an extremely versatile piece of equipment that is used to exercise arms and legs to strengthen muscles, improve flexibility and endurance in patients with varying physical ability.
The physiotherapy staff are using the trainer regularly with their patients and have already seen how much it benefits them during their rehabilitation.