CHRIS Marshall and Mike Jones are two men who under normal circumstances would probably never have met.
Chris, from Sundorne, was in his 20s with a job and his whole life in front of him, while 42-year-old Mike, from Bayston Hill was happily married with two children.
But in 2006 life dealt them a bitter blow when they both suffered an acquired brain injury.
Chris, at 25, suffered a stroke, causing a major bleed in his brain.
Meanwhile, Mike suffered two haemorrhages which also caused a bleed on the brain and his family were told to prepare for the worst.
The pair were admitted to The Walton Centre in Liverpool, a specialist hospital dedicated to caring for people with neurological conditions.
At this point their future looked bleak, with each of them facing life in a wheelchair, needing full time care and support. But in 2008, the men took up places at Headway Shropshire’s Day Opportunities charity.
The charity, based on Oxon Business Park in Shrewsbury provides specialised support for people with acquired brain injuries as well as their carers, family and friends.
With the charity’s help Mike and Chris have gone on to make amazing progress.
They can both now walk unaided and receive very little extra care and support. Although they still have some mobility issues and problems with their short term memories, they are both striving to live independent lives.
Chris said: “‘I want to be normal again, I want to go back to how I was.”
Mike added: “I want to be able to walk across a room without worrying that I’m going to fall and look stupid, I want to have a bath or a shower without having to think about it and without planning how I am going to do it before hand and what I really want is to be able to play football with my son again.”
During their rehabilitation, Chris and Mike struck up a friendship as they realised they shared a love of the outdoors.
The pair, who had both been keen walkers before their injuries, decided to set themselves the challenge of climbing Mount Snowdon.
Mike said: “It was our very own Everest. We had to take a reality check and realised we could no longer take the most challenging path and had to go up the basic tourist path.”
Last year the men reached the top of the mountain, with their friends and family – achieving something that five years previously would have been impossible for them.
They raised £2,500 through the challenge which was split between Headway Shropshire and The Walton Centre. The pair are both full of praise for the charity which has helped them on the road to recovery.
Chris said he was initially reluctant to join the centre. He said: “I feared it would just be a just a bunch of people doing nothing apart from sitting around a TV. Instead I found the support I needed with staff who’ve seen me in every state during my recovery and never blinked.”
Lizzie Evans fundraising officer for Shropshire Headway recently accompanied the men on another walk up Harmer Hill in Shropshire.
She said: “I was humbled to accompany two such amazing men on this walk.
“I watched them negotiate slopes that once they could have done without a thought but now have to take time to conquer. I also saw how stiles are now an awkward and difficult thing to climb.
“I felt honoured to watch them continue to prove that there can be life beyond a brain injury.”