Jim Woods, a grand officer and a past master of Peace and Unity Lodge No 3966 and Landmark Lodge No 7273 is in his 74th year. For many years he was the local care officer for the lodges and chapters on the Fylde coast. As such, he was a member of the Provincial Care Team based at Huyton. Every Wednesday morning would find Jim driving from his home in Poulton-le-Fylde to the Huyton office to officiate in the claims process for Grand and Provincial charity grants. He is now the Administration Support Care Officer to the Provincial Grand Almoner and works from home.
In 2004 and 2008 he underwent surgery to replace each of his hips, first at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, then at Chorley and South Ribble Hospital. Having a general anaesthetic made him sick so for the operations he had epidural injections. After one of the operations he caught an infection, which became so bad that he was placed in isolation for three weeks and was in hospital for five weeks overall.
Then on 29 May 2015, when he was writing an email, he noticed that he couldn’t lift his hand to type. He called to his wife Pauline, who thought he was joking. The following morning he awoke to find that his mouth was drooping. Pauline wanted to call an ambulance but Jim wanted to go by car to A&E. He was quickly found a bed; he’d had a stroke but was discharged four days later.
Soon after he was contacted by the Stroke Association department of ‘Life after stroke’ who have Claire Upton as their co-ordinator. They helped Jim with physiotherapy and rehabilitation. Claire invited Jim to be a volunteer for ‘Life after stroke’ by talking to and reassuring people about what to do after having a stroke. She is now hoping he will become an ambassador for the association and give talks to people.
Each year the Stroke Association have ‘Step out events’ or sponsored walks, which are held at different venues around the North West. Last year £38,000 was raised.
This year at Blackpool, Jim Woods was determined to complete the one mile walk along the paths of Stanley Park. For the 11:00 am start, Jim arrived at the Park cafe at 9:30am. There he contemplated a carbohydrate loading, energy giving ‘full English breakfast.’ Jim always was a healthy eater! Here he waited for his fellow walkers, all of whom were resplendent in purple T shirts with the Stroke Association logo. Jim was no exception and wore his with pride. He is now known as ‘The flying grape’.
When the walk started, the heavens opened and rain threw it down! Jim refused to wear a waterproof in order to show off his T shirt. Accompanied by his wife Pauline, he was the last away and last to finish but with two hip replacements and after a stroke, finish he did. Then the rain stopped. He did stop a few times on route, once to speak to the ducks, once to friends from the Lions Club and once to watch the BMX bike riders.
A careful eye was kept on all the participants by ‘Life after stroke’ co-ordinators, Claire Upton and Jennifer Gardner. With words of encouragement, all those who started the walk finished it in fine style. The walkers then received their medals, each as valuable as any Olympic gold to the recipient. Jim received his medal from six year old Charley Timperly-Green, son of one of the walk organisers who also took part in the event. Jim described this as a very emotional moment.
Before the drive home, all the participants and helpers returned to the cafe, some for a refreshing full English breakfast but most for a warming cup of coffee. So far Jim has raised a grand total of £650 for his exertions but he hopes more will be pledged.