Brain Injury Victim Visits Penryn College to Share Incredible Story of Recovery

11 May 2022

Last week, our students were provided with an inspiring example of the school’s motto, ‘Achieving through Challenge’, when Dr Andrew Tillyard – who suffered a life-changing brain injury nearly a decade ago – visited Penryn College to share his extraordinary story of recovery.

Dr Tillyard, a former Intensive Care Consultant Surgeon and Associate Professor of Medical Ethics and Law, sustained the injury after coming off of his bicycle while competing in a Cornwall-based triathlon. Subsequently, his life was saved by his own team of medical professionals, but members of his family were told that he would remain in a persistent vegetative state, and there was little hope of recovery.

In an inspiring speech to pupils, Andrew explained how he relearned to do the things he was told he would never do, including walking, talking, reading and running. He also reinforced the importance of wearing a bicycle helmet – a piece of protective equipment which saved his life.

And after school staff had informed Dr Tillyard that his story had provided a source of inspiration for our students, he said: “What a privilege to be thought of as an inspiration by such kind and generous children, who will go far.”

Indeed, Andrew’s story not only inspired pupils, but staff too – as Mrs Snowdon, Penryn College Careers Lead, explained: “It was an absolute honour to meet Andrew and hear about all the challenges he has conquered, as well as the determination he has shown in his quest to return to a fulfilling life.

“He has a great sense of humour which was reflected in the assembly. He shared some fantastic brain facts and analogies, and showed our students just what can be achieved when you put your mind to something. 

“We would like to thank Dr Tillyard for coming in and being such an inspiration to everyone. He has agreed to return to the school to meet with our Medics group, and we are really looking forward to this,” concluded Mrs Snowdon.

Andrew’s inspiring journey is detailed in his book, ‘The Reality of a Brain Injury: Am I Still Me?’, a copy of which will be available to borrow from the Library. You can find out more information on Andrew’s book here.