The first thing you notice when you meet Kyle Beere is that he is in a wheel chair and that he has brain damage. But spend some time in his company and you will soon see his wicked sense of humour.
That cheeky sense of humour had been one of his strongest characteristics. He had been a fit and healthy 12-year-old boy who loved Cardiff City Football Club. Then, two years ago, he had a brain haemorrhage out of the blue. His life changed forever.
After four operations and nearly six weeks in a coma, Kyle started to respond and move his eyes. He won the fight for his life.
But for his family, a whole new battle was about to start.
Kyle’s mum was told he’d need extensive rehabilitation. But the services he needed aren’t available in Wales. Instead, he had to go to the Children’s Trust hospital in Surrey, 160 miles from his home.
I visited the Children’s Trust hospital, and saw the amazing facilities they have there. Every child has one-to-one treatment in physio-therapy, hydro-therapy, play-therapy and speech and language.
Thanks to that intensive treatment, Kyle made good progress in the seven months he was there. But his mum, Katherine, couldn’t be there every day to watch that progress. She had to stay in Cardiff to work because as a single parent she couldn’t afford to give up her job.
Fortunately, her brother-in-law Andrew could spend time with Kyle. Seeing them together now you can see how close they have become. But while they were together in Surrey they were isolated from the rest of the family.
That’s why the family are campaigning for a specialist children’s brain injury unit in Wales. They want other families to have access to treatment that is closer, more joined up, and with better on-going support.
The Welsh Government says they are working with the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board to try to improve children’s neurology services at the Children’s Hospital of Wales.
I’m sure that’s something Kyle’s family will be pleased to hear, but those improvements can’t come soon enough for him.
The more help and support Kyle gets, the more that cheeky personality can shine through.