Stuart thanks “guardian angels” as Trust’s short-term grant eases financial pain
On the day of the accident, Stuart Lewis swears he had a guardian angel watching over him - in fact he had three.
As his work’s van slowly veered across the road into incoming traffic and came to a halt, there were two off-duty policemen travelling behind him and an off-duty nurse.
Stuart had suffered a cardiac arrest while driving and all three provided vital first-aid to help keep his heart pumping until paramedics arrived.
Over the next 45 minutes, Stuart was defibrillated seventeen times by the roadside before he was stable enough to be taken by ambulance to the Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI).
After life-saving surgery, he was then placed in an induced coma for three-and-a-half weeks.
It’s reassuring to know that there is help out there and it was a godsend that the St Monica Trust were able to help us out financially.
Stuart said: “The ICU team and after care team in the ward were absolutely brilliant. I can’t thank them enough for what they did for me during those three-and-a-half weeks. It was a very frightening thing.
“I can’t remember anything about the accident. On my way back to the yard, I’d spoken to my wife Tina on the phone to say that I didn’t feel too clever and asked her to book me an appointment at the doctors.
“Thirty minutes later the police turned up at our house and told Tina she needed to get to the BRI immediately, as they didn’t expect me to live.”
Stuart, who worked as a fitter for a company that manufactures kitchen worktops, has been unable to return to work due to long-term health issues caused by his cardiac arrest.
When his sick pay stopped after six months, Stuart and Tina were left facing a financial crisis and struggling to pay their bills.
“I absolutely loved my job and was a valued employee for 13 years. However, I wasn’t able to return to work as my heart now only functions at 30% and I struggle with my breathing.
"I also have lapses in my concentration due to short-term memory loss caused by lack of oxygen when my heart stopped beating.
“Our only income is from Tina’s job, who has to work part-time because she’s my primary carer.
We had applied for Universal Credit when my sick pay ended, however that can take some time and Tina’s wages weren’t enough to cover all our bills.”
It was then that Stuart’s stepdaughter encouraged him to contact the St Monica Trust’s Charitable Giving Team, which supports families and individuals who are facing financial hardship, by awarding gifts or short-term grants.
St Monica Trust’s Charitable Giving Lead, Catherine Robinson said: “I’m so pleased Stuart’s stepdaughter was able to support Stuart to access our Individual Giving Fund.
"It’s at times like these, when people are faced with an unexpected crisis, that we’re here to help and I encourage anyone over 50 who is experiencing financial difficulty to get in touch.
“Awarding a short-term grant or physical gift, not only brings some immediate financial relief, but there’s also the benefit to someone’s well-being of knowing our team is here to quickly respond to their needs and signpost them to any additional support.”
"Taken the world off our shoulders..."
In September this year, Stuart was awarded a short-term grant of £110 a month for six months, which helped them pay their rent and council tax while their application for Universal Credit was processed.
Although Stuart still faces many challenges in the future due to his long term health problems, the grant from the St Monica Trust has at least provided some breathing space from their financial worries.
Stuart said: “Applying for the grant was so straightforward and easy. It’s reassuring to know that there is help out there and it was a godsend that the St Monica Trust were able to help us out financially.
“It feels like it has taken the world off our shoulders, as we were worrying about how we were going to pay our bills. The short-term grant was gratefully received and we really do appreciate everything they have done for us.”
More information on the St Monica Trust’s Charitable Giving can be found here or please call 0117 949 4003.