Rugby league fans attending the Keighley Cougars vs Bradford Bulls game are being encouraged to dig deep and donate to a major trauma charity that supported a young man who suffered a brain injury in a horrific car crash.
Oliver Stevens’ family feared he may never see, walk or talk again when the car he was a passenger in collided with a 40-tonne articulated lorry in West Marton, near Skipton, North Yorkshire, in July 2022. Oliver, who was 21 at the time, suffered several fractures to his skull, paralysis down his left side, broke his ribs and collar bone, and damaged his vision and hearing.
He spent months at the Major Trauma Centre at Leeds General Infirmary, where he and his family were given emotional, practical, and financial help by charity Day One Trauma Support.
Oliver’s grandparents Hazel Stevens and Maz Reape, life-long Keighley Cougars fans, are leading a group of volunteers who will be collecting donations for Day One Trauma Support during the Cougars’ 1895 Cup clash with Bradford Bulls at Cougar Park, on Royd Ings Ave, Keighley, on Sunday 18 February. Donation buckets will be available around the ground thanks to volunteers from West Craven Warriors ARLFC, which are based in Oliver’s hometown of Barnoldswick, Lancashire.
Hazel, aged 75, of Barnoldswick, said: “As a grandparent you never expect anything like this to happen to your own grandchild. It was a massive shock to the family and we often felt so helpless as Oliver recovered in hospital. Thankfully he had his amazing parents and Day One there for him. We wanted to do our own bit to support Oliver and Day One, which is why we asked our favourite rugby team Keighley Cougars if they could help and we’re delighted they’re allowing us to fundraise during one of their big games against local rivals Bradford Bulls. We hope people will be inspired by Oliver’s story and support this great cause.”
Steve Watkinson, Chief Operating Officer at Keighley Cougars, said: “Supporting our community is one of the core values held at Keighley Cougars and when we were told of Oliver’s story and the connection with our fantastic volunteers it was obvious we had to raise awareness and funds for the fantastic work undertaken by Day One Trauma Support. No one can ever plan for catastrophic injury but the support from Day One will go a long way to helping support local families’ wellbeing going forward.”
Oliver, 23, of Barnoldswick, Lancashire, is now walking and talking, but is still recovering at home with support from his family. He needs regular physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and psychological support. The left side of his body, especially his face and arm, still suffers from paralysis.
Last year, to help with his rehabilitation, and to keep himself motivated, Oliver took on a 180,000-step walking challenge over 30 days to raise £3,000 for Day One. His story inspired an ‘army’ of supporters to walk their own distance for Day One. And in December the charity presented Oliver with an Inspirational Fundraiser Award in recognition of his efforts.
Day One Trauma Support was set up in West Yorkshire, but now helps people across the UK who have suffered a catastrophic injury as a result of incidents such as car crashes, falls from height, stabbings and sporting accidents.
The charity provides a caseworker on the wards at LGI – the closest major trauma centre to Keighley – and provides support to patients at Bradford Teaching Hospital NHS Trust and Harrogate District General.
Anyone who is unable to attend the game on Sunday but would like to make a donation in support of Oliver and Hazel can do so at www.justgiving.com/page/vicky-mara-1695553794491
Oliver Stevens said: “It’s been a really hard 18 months and I still have a long recovery journey ahead of me. Day One supported my family in our darkest days and continue to be there for us. They helped my mum with initial financial support so she could be by my side when I needed her the most. I’m so happy that we can raise more money so no one is ever alone. Thank you to my Grannie and Maz, and everyone at Keighley Cougars.”
Hayley Ibbotson, senior fundraiser for Day One Trauma Support, said: “Oliver’s story of recovery is truly inspiring and we’re delighted the rugby league community is getting behind him by supporting Day One. We’re so grateful to everyone at Keighley Cougars for their amazing support, which will help us ensure no one is left to rebuild their life on their own following catastrophic injury.”