Rowing hero plots course for new charity

By Tim Clarke 22/03 Updated: 23/03 09:52

Buy photos » Richard Wood takes part in the HydroActive treatment with Kat Wood. (s)

AN INSPIRATIONAL rower who was left disabled by a stroke has taken to the water again to help launch a new charity which promises to bring fresh hope to other stroke and head injury victims.

Richard Wood is no stranger to great challenges having conquered the Atlantic during a fund-raising solo row in 2004 before a severe stroke in December 2006 left him with restricted mobility including no movement in his left arm.

But the oarsman's courageous battle to overcome his disabilities has prompted the 56-year-old to set up a new charity called ReActive to help support the recovery of people with disabling neurological conditions.

He is being partnered in the venture by neuro-physiotherapist Kat Wood who has already launched a new water-based treatment called HydroActive in the hydrotherapy pool at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.

The neuro-hydrotherapy provides therapeutic relaxation, physiotherapy and strengthening to improve the quality of life for people with conditions ranging from stroke and head injuries to cerebral palsy and Parkinson's Disease.

But the charity urgently needs a fresh injection of funding so it can maintain the service and eventually purchase its own pool to expand the treatment from one evening a week.

Mr Wood, who attends the Thursday night sessions, said: "When you get in the pool it actually supports you so things like stretching your limbs out and exercising becomes easier and the warmth of the water helps too. It really helps with your overall recovery."

HydroActive is being supported by Malvern-based charity ARCOS but Kat Wood said they needed to raise about £2,500 to maintain the service until the end of the year.

"There is a lack of affordable, accessible exercise and rehabilitation opportunities for neurologically disabled adults in Worcestershire and by providing a service like this we hope we can start addressing this issue," she said.

The charity eventually hopes to create its own centre for treatment and support to help patients enjoy a better quality of life and fulfil their lifetime ambitions.

"We are making a huge commitment to bring people 'back from the edge' so they can live a full life again and strive to reach their full potential,"

Mr Wood said. "I want people to realise their ambitions but like rowing an ocean you can only succeed with a great deal of help."

HydroActive takes place on a Thursday from 6.30pm to 8pm and costs £40 for five sessions. Anyone interested in booking a place or supporting the new charity can call Kat Wood on 07919275008.

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