The family of a Baston teenager with a life-changing brain condition have described how they have been lifted by a determined community fundraising effort.
At least £10,000 has been raised by Bourne Grammar School alone for former pupil Ryley Briston, 15, who was rushed to hospital with a bleed on the brain in May 2016.
Ryley, a former member of Spalding Gymnastic Academy and a promising sprinter at Nene Valley Harriers Athletics Club, spent four months at a rehabilitation centre in Surrey after he was diagnosed with arteriovenous malformation (AVM).
Philip Briston, Ryley’s father, said: “The Sunday before it happened, Ryley had won the under-15 100 metres and came second in the 200 metres at the Lincolnshire County Athletics Championships in Grantham.
“Then, on Friday, May 20, Ryley had come home after playing football with a group of lads on the playing field.
“He was having a shower and I was downstairs when his younger brother Theo, 12, called out to me to say that Ryley had a headache.
“Initially, our reaction was that things weren’t so bad, but things escalated quite quickly to the point that Ryley was losing consciousness and I put him into the recovery position.”
An ambulance was called and Ryley was taken to Peterborough City Hospital. It was only when Ryley was transferred to Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge that the gravity of his condition became apparent to the family, as well as the realisation that their lives would never be the same again.
Mel, Ryley’s mum, said: “I’d gone out for a meal with my friends, having given Ryley a kiss before leaving the house.
“Then I got a phone call where I was told to come home quickly, so to walk in and see what was going on with Ryley, I couldn’t comprehend it.
“How can you say goodbye to someone and come home to this?”
Less than one per cent of the UK population suffers a ruptured AVM, as Ryley did, where pressure and damage to the blood vessel allows blood to leak into the brain causing a headache and an eventual seizure.
Mel said: “Ryley was in intensive care for four weeks and we were assured that there was nothing we could done as there would have been no warning with a ruptured AVM.
“Life has changed and it’s been a waiting game because, for a long time, we didn’t know what part of Ryley’s brain had been starved of oxygen which would affect his movement.
“At one point, Ryley couldn’t see and couldn’t do anything which was when a friend said to me ‘this could be it’.
“So every tiny bit of improvement was a boost for us and when Ryley raised his eyebrows after we asked him what his name was, everyone was jumping around his bedroom at the hospital.”
Ryley’s diagnosis and rehabilition led to a #Root4Ryley campaign being set up to raise funds for his treatment and adaptations to the family home in Baston.
Fundraising activities included the sale of Root4Ryley wristbands, a football match in Baston last month, and a ball organised by a friend, supported by Bourne, Deepings and Stamford Round Table.
Claire Bowtell, PE teacher at Bourne Grammar School, said: “It’s an amazing cause to be involved in and it’s wonderful to see how Ryley’s family has remained so positive, given everything that’s happened to them.”