John Gaimster – “It’s been not just a game changer, it’s been a life changer.”

A life-changing experience.

This article first appeared in the December 2018 edition of Cumbria Life. Photo credits: Phil Rigby/Cumbria Life.

John Gaimster has an intense look of concentration on his face as he tackles a high ropes course.
Moving from one challenge to another, each of which requires a combination of thought processes and physical exertion, his determination to finish the course shows in his expression. Safely reaching the other end, there are no half measures for John and he takes a short breather before turning around to re-trace his steps and complete the course for the first time.

Undertaking the challenge would have been unthinkable for John, 57, three years ago. Since then he’s been to the Lake District Calvert Trust for about 20 visits, travelling from his home at Wakefield.

John’s wife, Ann, was originally from Crosby near Maryport and he loves coming to the centre, above Bassenthwaite Lake, because of the staff, the facilities and the feeling of being among the Lake District scenery and close to his wife’s home area. He also likes being able to relieve the burden on Ann by giving her a break.

“You can come here and even if you don’t do the activities you still feel you’ve achieved,” he says. “We all support each other and smile and it’s been not just a game changer, it’s been a life changer.”

John’s health problems date from 1991 when, aged 29, he underwent 30 hours of brain surgery for an arteriovenous malformation. He made a good recovery and was able to train as a sports remedial therapist. His health took a turn for the worse in 2012, however, when he had an acute intraventricular subarachnoid hemorrhage and a long period of treatment began.

His health problems have left him with a severe visual impairment, difficulties in walking, muscle weakness and balance problems, among others.

John is a supporter of the new Calvert Trust ABI centre and believes he can continue to make progress.

“Looking out over Bassenthwaite Lake and the hills I say to David (John’s carer) ‘one day I’m going to walk in the hills again’ – and I will.”


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