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Carpenter's hands-on approach helps rebuild his life following severe injury

Image shows a man standing next to some wooden pallets

PIC: Andrew Ray has been using his carpentry skills to make various items for the farm based in Cae Felin.


A former carpenter is rebuilding his life after a serious accident by getting hands-on at a community farm near Morriston Hospital.

Andrew Ray, 63, suffered major injuries after a fall last year and attended University Hospital of Wales for intensive care treatment before transferring to Neath Port Talbot Hospital’s Neurorehabilitation Unit.

Image shows a group of people sat around a fruit box His treatment now comes under the Brain Injury Service at Morriston Hospital, where part of his rehabilitation is provided at a nearby farm on land owned by the health board.

The service not only looks at helping its patients on a physical, mental and psychological level, but also by reintegrating them into a social circle.

PIC: Andrew with Brain Injury Service staff Suzanna Charles, administrative co-ordinator; Zoe Fisher, Consultant clinical psychologist and Anthony Watson, rehabilitation coach.

For Andrew, who lives alone in Swansea, regular trips to a farm which produces fruit and vegetables have proved integral to his recovery.

While some green-fingered patients have been helping plant seeds for future crops, Andrew has been busy using his hands to build structures around the farm.

While the accident affected his memory, he hasn’t forgotten how to put his carpentry skills to full use.

Andrew said: “My memory is not great following my accident, but my profession was a roofer and carpenter and that comes naturally to me when I’m presented with something to put together. I’m good with my hands and prefer to do everything manually rather than use power tools.

“I’ve had the chance to do that at the farm and other workshops we are involved in within the Brain Injury Service.

“At the farm I’ve built some boxes for fruit to grow in, along with a few other things, which has been great for me.”

Image shows a group of people in a field Andrew is originally from Brighton but moved to Swansea with his wife, who died from a heart attack a year before his accident.

He is now building up his confidence and skills around the house thanks to the Brain Injury Service.

PIC: Andrew with CSA directors William Beasley (back row, second left), consultant general and upper gastrointestinal surgeon in Morriston Hospital, and Simon Peacock (back row, fifth from left) along with members of the Brain Injury Service, CSA volunteers and Swansea University academics and students who are evaluating the work being undertaken at the farm.

The camaraderie created within the group has also given him a platform to develop his personal skills.

“The Brain Injury Service has drastically helped me. It takes time to rebuild yourself.

“Being part of a group really helps because it’s given me confidence to be around people and to contribute. The camaraderie has been great – I love being in the company of others as I find it very lonely at home.

“The service has also helped me in doing things around the house. The occupational therapist has taught me how to cook – they may be basic things to some, but for me it’s been a massive help.

“At the start of the sessions I think I was happy to sit back and let everyone else do the talking. But now I feel a lot more comfortable and confident to interact with the group and get involved in sessions.”

Consultant clinical psychologist Zoe Fisher has been among the Brain Injury Service staff who have helped Andrew’s rehabilitation.

Taking patients to the farm, run by not-for-profit organisation Cae Felin Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), is one of many holistic approaches offered as part of their recovery.

Image shows a field Zoe said: “Our patients have a variety of activities to choose from at the CSA. Some may engage in light gardening tasks like weeding, mulching fruit trees, transporting wood chips uphill with wheelbarrows or, in Andrew’s case, crafting really useful items.

“Others might prefer to spend their time by the stream, embracing a moment of reconnection with nature.

“The partnership allows us to provide holistic neurorehabilitation through the enriching environment of a CSA, offering a pathway to recovery and enhanced well-being for individuals facing neurological challenges.

PICTURED: The CSA has the long-term goal of supplying Morriston Hospital with fruit and vegetables.

“Our unique approach maximises the brain's natural capacity for growth particularly in the earlier stages of recovery through engaging, hands-on agricultural activities.

“These activities not only stimulate cognitive functions and emotional resilience but also foster physical health through gentle, nature-based exercise.

“Beyond the physical and cognitive benefits, our program places a strong emphasis on psychological support and social reintegration, creating a nurturing community where individuals can connect, share, and grow together.”

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