Hilary and Shaun’s story

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23rd September 2019

At age 19, Shaun Whitmore had an accident whilst on holiday with friends in Ibiza, resulting in brain damage. Now 32, Shaun’s mother Hilary cares for him full-time. 

Hilary herself had a difficult upbringing, being brought up in care, and leaving at age 16 to get a job and learn how to cook, clean and look after herself.

A few years later, Hilary fell pregnant with her son Shaun, who was a happy and healthy child up until the day he went on his first holiday away from home at the age of 19.

“I received a call from the Spanish police telling me that Shaun had banged his head and that he was in intensive care. I flew out to see him and was told by the doctors that his life support should be switched off and his organs donated.

I was in such a state but knew I was not giving up on Shaun. The insurance company refused to help, so to get Shaun back to the hospital in the UK I had to pay the whole airfare, which was a huge amount of money considering Shaun’s medical needs at that time.”

Hilary brought her son back to the UK where he would spend the next 18 months in hospital.

“Every day for 18 months I would go into hospital in the morning and evening to see Shaun and to give him a full-body massage. I’d also recorded some tapes of Shaun’s friends giving him encouragement and put headphones in his ears so he could listen them.

“For the last 15 years I’ve been caring for Shaun but I definitely wouldn’t call myself a carer, it’s just something I do as his mum.

He’s my same old cheeky, cheeky chappy. But of course it wouldn’t be true to call the last 15 years easy – in fact some were such struggle I can’t even describe. 2013 to 2015 were so low that I did some really stupid things, but I’m over that now.

I’m never, ever, going to give up on my son. Life is too short you know; you need to keep fighting.”

And slowly, through speech and physical therapy that Hilary provided herself, the changes she witnessed in Shaun have been incredible. Now at the age of 32, his changes seem to have plateaued, but Hilary is always going to keep trying and hoping that he can improve more.

Shaun’s been going on Revitalise breaks at Sandpipers three times a year, for the last 12 years.

“He really loves going to Revitalise as he gets loads of attention, hangs out with his friends and has fun. He looks forward to his holidays and always comes back with a big smile on his face. He especially enjoys going on the trips to Blackpool and to comedy evenings. Shaun also likes to get space away from me and be an independent young person”

To find out more information about Revitalise breaks, or to book one yourself, please contact our bookings team on bookings@revitalise.org.uk or 0303 303 0145.

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