You’ve helped me get my life back!

Mr John Thompson with Susan Whitehead (left) and Linda Hilton (right) of the Falls Service
Mr John Thompson with Susan Whitehead (left) and Linda Hilton (right) of the Falls Service

An inspirational Garstang pensioner says a new exercise class has helped him get his life back together after being injured in a fall.

John Thompson, 77, praised the work of a new falls exercise group, delivered by a team of experts from Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

It is designed to help people who have had – or are at risk of – a fall to stay on their feet.

Patients complete a programme of exercise and education designed to help improve mobility and balance and to increase confidence and strength.

There are classes operating across two sites at Garstang and Lancaster. Mr Thompson attended the classes on the recommendation of falls practitioner Linda Hilton.

Mr Thompson was recovering from a brain injury and had recently returned home from four months in Preston Hospital and three months at Lancaster for rehabilitation.

Before the classes his wife had to stay by his side and help him to walk using a frame.

He said: “I felt silly and very low and that was made a lot worse when I fell in the car park at the health centre.

“Having to use the frame to walk everywhere was a pain and I had very little confidence in walking at all.

“When Linda suggested these classes I was nervous at first because I felt so foolish.

“But as soon as I met the others in the class and realised we all had similar issues it was much easier.

“I got really in to it. I realised that by meeting friends with like minds here I was not only able to walk better myself, but was able to help others in the same boat as me too.”

Mr Thompson can now walk short distances unaided and says he would not be able to do so without the group.

“This group had been a massive part of me getting my life back together,” he said.

“I can take my dog for walks much easier now.”

Falls practitioner Linda said: “Everyone here has similar mobility issues.

“ As we get older our balance becomes compromised and our muscles find it more difficult to do things like walking.

“It’s very frightening to fall in old age, so we try to help people get their confidence back and encourage them to do exercises that will help them be more stable.

“When I met John, like the other patients he was very nervous and everyone had given up on him ever being able to walk properly again.

“Most patients aren’t motivated to do any exercises at home so the classes give them encouragement.

“John really got in to it and loved the social atmosphere. He came on tremendously – it was actually really inspirational.

“Then one day during a break he stood up and walked without his sticks around the room handing out biscuits to the rest of the group.

“I couldn’t help but cry because he has done so well against the odds.”

Mrs Lucienne Ferguson, aged 89 and from Garstang, attended the classes after a fall in her garden damaged her knee. She had to live with her daughter until it got better and she missed her independence.

She said: “I was doing exercises at home, but I wanted to push myself so I could get out and about again.

“I was also worried about injuring myself again if I had another fall. At the classes I learn new exercises to try and get encouragement from everyone else. It gives us all an incentive. I have very much enjoyed coming.”

The classes take about an hour and include exercises .