Doncaster Council CEO raises awareness of encephalitis symptoms one year after hospitalisation

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The CEO of Doncaster Council gave a speech to councillors last week, one year after he began displaying signs of a brain infection which led to his hospitalisation.

On Friday (17 May) Chief Executive Damian Allen discussed his hospitalisation as well as his future with the authority, sharing that he originally planned to retire after the illness.

The meeting marked one year since he first began displaying symptoms of viral meningo-encephalitis, an infection causing swelling of the brain.

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Days later he was rushed to hospital, where he went into a coma for eight days.

Ros Jones and Damian Allen.Ros Jones and Damian Allen.
Ros Jones and Damian Allen.

Recalling the events, he told councillors: “In the first part of the AGM, I mistakenly handed the flowers intended for the retiring Deputy Mayor’s Consort, to the incoming Deputy Mayor. Everyone laughed, well you would, it was genuinely funny.

“At the time, I was experiencing face-blindness, a confusion caused by the increased swelling and pressure in my brain. Later during theswapping of the robes, I displayed manic behaviour.

“In part two of the AGM, I displayed aphasia – speech and language problems, where what I thought, is not what I actually said. By the Monday, I was displaying signs of psychosis and could barely speak, and was rushed into hospital.

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“So a year on, I want to sincerely thank Ros, the Council and Elected Members for their continued support over my initial recovery periodbefore returning to work full-time last September.”

In February, the council took part in an awareness campaign with Encephalitis International, lighting up Doncaster’s Mansion House red.

In April, Mr Allen ran the London Marathon in aid of The National Brain Appeal, raising over £6,000 to support research and rehabilitation work for brain disease, injuries and disorders.

He added: “Returning to this time last year, when I woke from my coma after 8 days in ITU, still sluggish due to the drugs; the first thing I said, was that I loved my nearest and dearest.

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“The next thing I said to my wife, was “let’s sell the house and move as I am retiring!” However, 12 days of speaking little, and listening and observing a lot to the particularity of things in the wards, whilst thinking and reflecting a great deal; got me to revise my original intention. And here I am a year later.

“My decision not to retire, and to come back to work was simple; I’m not yet ready, as there is much unfinished business. And for those of youwondering what that unfinished business is, well you’ve just heard the long list of things to do from Ros!”

Mr Allen referred to a speech from Mayor Ros Jones, in which she highlighted several priorities for the upcoming year.

The mayor stated that her number one priority continues to be reopening Doncaster Sheffield Airport, with the council in the process of finding an investor to run the site.

She also discussed plans to regenerate the city centre, tackle crime and anti-social behaviour, improve the borough’s education and skills offering and create a “greener, cleaner” Doncaster.