An Interview with Duncan

14 March 2019

Duncan, you joined Chailey Heritage Foundation as a Teaching Assistant two years ago. What did you do before that?

I was a PE teacher for 17 years, but that changed when I had a stroke in October 2012. I had to have a lot of Physio and Occupational Therapy after that, spending a long time learning how to walk and use my left arm again. Once I was fit enough, I retrained to become a Personal Trainer, specifically to work with people with disabilities. I mainly worked with people who, like me, had acquired brain injuries.

Why did you decide to join Chailey Heritage Foundation?

After two years as a Personal Trainer, I started researching where else I could apply my skills and life experience. For nearly 20 years I would pass Chailey on my commute to work but I’d never visited. I found out about a Teaching Assistant vacancy and decided to apply. I know how frustrating it can be for young people who need help in their daily lives, as I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to not be able to walk or to feed myself. I’ve now worked here for two years.

Could you tell us what your role involves?

I mainly work in a school department called St Martin’s, which supports children up to the age of around 10. I mostly work with one particular child who has a multi-sensory impairment and has a rare syndrome which affects his development. I help him with his educational needs, help him learn to feed himself and support his general wellbeing.

I also spend one day a week supporting the Foundation’s Physical, Inclusion and Communication Liaison. That involves supporting children with sports and other physical activities.

You’re taking part in the Greater Brighton Cycle Challenge this year. Why?

I’m still a very competitive person. I have a recumbent trike with an electric assist, which I bought after my stroke, as I couldn’t use a regular bike. When I heard from the fundraising team about the 30-mile cycling challenge, I thought it would be a good opportunity to dust it off and take part. Plus, it’s worth it because it’s raising money for young people at Chailey.

Are you feeling ready for the challenge?

It’s going to be challenging. I go to the gym every Tuesday as part of a neuro fitness class, but I haven’t started training on my bike yet.

I have cycled 25 miles on flat roads before, but that was in 2015, this will be a longer distance for me and it will also be more hilly. I’m excited though – it’ll be tough but fun!

Why did you want to raise funds for Chailey Heritage Foundation?

I had a lot of support from friends when I was in hospital, so this is my turn to do something for people who need support.

I can walk and I can move – I’m doing alright, so it good to support people who are less fortunate than me. Before I had my stroke, I had the chance to travel. I got to trek through the foothills of the Himalayas and watch the sunrise over Everest. I’m lucky that I had that opportunity. Some of the young people here have wonderful opportunities but will never be able to do that.

How can people sponsor you?

They can sponsor me online at

Interested in joining Duncan on the Greater Brighton Cycle Challenge? The event takes place on Sunday 19th May 2019. Find out more at

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