Royal visit commemorates move to historic building

Brain injury survivors from across Devon and Torbay were delighted this week to meet Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex at a special event with local brain injury charity Headway Devon.

During the visit, The Countess of Wessex toured the XCentre – which is the headquarters of Headway Devon as well as the charity’s Exeter-based day centre for people with brain injuries – speaking to people affected by brain injuries and supporters of the charity.

Earlier this year and following a two-year fundraising appeal Headway Devon successfully purchased the XCentre, a sympathetic conversion of the city’s old wool-drying shed.

While touring the centre, Her Royal Highness was able to take part in a range of activities offered by Headway which are aimed at helping people with brain injuries to relearn lost skills and improve their quality of life. Included amongst these activities was cognitive rehabilitation therapy, where The Countess of Wessex tried her hand at exercises developed to improve thinking skills like memory and concentration, and a Devon cream tea with scones baked by the clients of Headway Devon during the afternoon.

Her Royal Highness was also shown a spinning activity where clients of the charity were being taught how to make alpaca wool into yarn, drawing together the important role that the XCentre played in the city’s wool-trade in the 18th century and Headway’s focus on art and craft activities as a means of therapy and rehabilitation for those who have sustained brain injury.

Those involved in the event said they were really looking forward to meeting The Countess of Wessex and clients and family members had travelled from across Devon and Torbay to be present for the occasion.

After witnessing some of the activities Her Royal Highness unveiled a plaque to mark the visit and was presented with a posy by Marilyn Dingle-Shevlin, a long-standing client and supporter of Headway Devon.

Following the visit, Headway Devon Chief Executive Anne Mattock said, “We were really pleased with how the event went. To have The Countess of Wessex here was a great validation of the important work that we do in the local community.

“Our clients thoroughly enjoyed meeting Her Royal Highness, who showed a real interest in their stories and experiences, taking the time to speak to each person individually. It was a very positive experience for us all and we were touched by her understanding and compassion.

“Headway Devon has been supporting people across Devon and Torbay for twenty years, and we now support over 200 people every week, but despite that there are still a lot of people who haven’t heard of us. This visit has really thrown a spotlight on our work and is a great opportunity for us to raise awareness about brain injury and the specialist support that we provide to those who need it.”