Billie's Story

Subarachnoid Haemorrhage: Raising Funds for the Billie Elizabeth Wood Trust

May 13, 2021
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2020 was a year of loss for tens of thousands of people in the UK. But while Covid-19 dominated the headlines – and we all lived in lockdown – other tragedies took place, too.

It is very much against the natural order we expect life to follow, when parents outlive a child. Billie was just 25 years old when she passed away on 13th May 2020. She suffered a subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH). Billie was a beloved sister, friend and girlfriend. She was also the daughter of our service director, Richard Wood, the niece of our Caple managing director Danny Lay, our financial director Graham Perry and the granddaughter of our chairman, Maurice Lay.

Directors and Employees Unite

Our family-owned business instantly rallied around, offering whatever comfort and support we could. However, just over one year after Billie’s death, that support is set to become something more tangible. Caple directors will now join her family and friends for a fund-raising walk along Hadrian’s Wall.

The family set up Billie Elizabeth Wood Trust (BEWT) to fund research into the trauma that led to Billie’s tragic death. They also want to help prevent other families from experiencing the loss of a loved one, due to subarachnoid haemorrhage. Caple is supporting The Hadrian’s Wall Walk and several initiatives that the Trust has established to raise both funds and awareness, in loving memory of Billie.

What is SAH?

A subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH) is a form of stroke in which bleeding occurs into the fluid-filled space surrounding the brain (called the subarachnoid space). It is usually caused by the rupture of a small, berry-like swelling – called a berry aneurysm – on one of the arteries in the brain. A subarachnoid haemorrhage is a medical emergency. Sadly, around 50% of people who have one will die. In fact, approximately half of the survivors are left with significant disability.

Around 6-10 people of every 100,000 per year will experience a subarachnoid haemorrhage: it causes around 6 out of 100 of all strokes. This makes SAH relatively rare, but hugely important. A subarachnoid haemorrhage is dangerous and disabling. It tends to affect younger patients more than other strokes. And it affects a significant number of otherwise healthy people every year – with a startling skew towards young women. Specifically’/ women aged between 20-40.

Billie was an optimist and a perfectionist. Popular, kind and magnetic, she grabbed life with both hands. Billie was fit and healthy with no pre-existing conditions. Therefore, she experienced no warning signs before she fell ill.

After spending six days in intensive care after her original subarachnoid haemorrhage, Billie suffered a ‘vasospasm’, which caused a fatal stroke. There are significant gaps in research around vasospasms, and the opportunity to reduce the associated risks. So the Trust’s first focus is to raise money to fund this essential research.

The Hadrian’s Wall Walk

On 9th June, directors, family and friends will attempt to walk from one side of England to the other, along the route of Hadrian’s Wall, to raise funds for the Billie Elizabeth Wood Trust. With an age range of 20 to 65, they will attempt to walk 20-25km every day for six days. The route will take in the remains of the Wall and various fortresses, as the group travels from Bowness-on-Solway in Cumbria to Segedunum Roman Fort on the River Tyne in Newcastle – a total distance of 136km.

The Hadrian’s Wall Walk has an ambitious fundraising goal of £30,000, earmarked for research in memory of Billie. This amount could positively shift the odds of survival for other subarachnoid haemorrhage sufferers. The Wood family’s goal is therefore heartbreakingly simple: to prevent the world from losing someone like Billie ever again. Their promise is to work until this becomes a reality. So, if you would like to make a donation to this vital research, please click here.

The various COVID-19 lockdowns – and their associated restrictions – have made raising money more difficult. But Billie’s friends and family have not been deterred.

The Hadrian’s Wall Walk complements Billie’s Miles, with a goal, throughout April, to walk a total of 4,206.75 miles. This covers the distance by air from London Heathrow to Barbados (Billie’s happy place). The Snowdonia initiative consists of Billie’s friends walking to the peak to raise money for the trust. Two of Billie’s friends cycled from Lands end to John O’Groat’s. Billie’s boyfriend and university friends’ cricket team, On The Pull, added more donations through a cricket fundraiser. Her group of friends from Barbados raised money by producing hand-drawn cards and posters of photographs from her favourite place, Barbados.

Nick Ede & Burberry Supporting BEWT

Nick Ede and the Style For Stroke Foundation have also launched their 2021 campaign to raise awareness for stroke and funds for Interact Stroke, The Stroke Association and the Billie Elizabeth Wood Trust.

Designing the sixth collection is Burberry’s Simon Anthony Ford who has also helmed design roles at Oral Keily, Hobbs, and Radley. The genderless designs are made with sustainability in mind by ethical manufacturers Hit+Run who make each garment to order meaning no waste. Each design depicts the signs of a stroke with a reminder to act fast if you see any of them.

Founder of Style for Stroke, Nick Ede says: 

“I am so excited to be launching this year’s campaign with such an empowering collection encouraging people to be aware of stroke. Style For Stroke has always been about being inclusive, cool and compassionate with an edge and I think the new design really speaks for itself.”

With a growing number of stroke sufferers under 40, Style For Stroke seeks to highlight, educate, and influence people to make healthy lifestyle choices and lower their risk of stroke.
All profits donated to the Stroke Foundation.

Billie’s legacy

Her family writes:

“In the darkest circumstances and most heart-breaking times, we have realised we need to help others. Subarachnoid haemorrhage is sadly under-researched. The Billie Elizabeth Wood Trust has one mission, to fund research into the trauma that led to Billie’s tragic death, and prevent this from happening to others… By examining exactly what happened to Billie, step by step, we are working with the acclaimed Southmead Neurological Department in Bristol to generate world-leading research…we love you and miss you, our beautiful girl, from your brother, Max, your Mummy and Daddy.”

Thank you for reading – and please support fundraising if you can.