THE family of a retired farmer who has been left unable to talk, walk or recognise his loved ones following an accident outside his home, say they have been left devastated as they face the prospect of him never fully recovering.
Edwin Watson had been using a leaf blower at his home in Mawnan Smith when he was in collision with a car driven by 88-year-old Veronica Chegwidden on October 29. Last week she appeared in court and was given a conditional discharge after admitting being unable to comply with a Road Traffic Act requirement, in that she had been unable to read a number plate at 20 metres.
Immediately following the accident, Mr Watson, 73, had been airlifted to hospital unconscious with head injuries, which led to a bleed on the brain, and a dislocated arm. Although he initially recovered enough to be discharged after four days, he was rushed back into hospital only two days later having suffered a stroke.
Within just four days, Mr Watson’s family, his wife of 47 years Carol and children, Chris and Kathryn Stivey, had lost him. “He was a completely different person,” said Kathryn, of Goldenbank in Falmouth. “He couldn’t talk and didn’t understand anything, there was nothing at all, he was not my dad.”
Mr Watson, who had spent his working life on the family farm at Roscarrack before retiring to Mawnan Smith a decade ago, was moved to Barncoose Hospital and then to Sheldon House nursing home on January 20 where he remains.
“He is in a home with patients with severe dementia and although he has all the traits of someone with severe dementia, be doesn’t have that,” said Kathryn. “He had a head injury and significant stroke damage. He doesn’t recognise people, he doesn’t feed himself and is doubly incontinent – Dad doesn’t do anything for himself. He would not recognise what to do with a pen, a toothbrush or a fork.”
Daughter-in-law Michelle Bray said: “Edwin spent his life outdoors. He had an allotment at Goldenbank and was over there almost every day, everyone knows him, but he hasn’t been outdoors since this happened.”
The family, which includes grandchildren Peran and Jenna Stivey and Ria, Keita and Sasha Watson, had been planning to spend Christmas together at Edwin and Carol’s home, but instead spent the afternoon at his hospital bedside.
With Peran at university in Cardiff, his father, Mark, away at sea for extended periods, and Sasha battling cancer, they had been looking forward to spending quality time together. “The family has been trying to cope with Sasha’s condition and then all this has happened,” said Michelle. “It has changed everything. For us, Edwin was the pillar of our family – he was the boss, but now he has no awareness of who we are.
“It has been really difficult for Carol. They have an old fashioned marriage – Carol is the homemaker, but now she has to take on everything, all the paperwork that Edwin did. She is so grateful for all the support she has received from all their friends who have been visiting Edwin daily.”
The situation is not only emotionally draining for the family, but financially too as Carol has to foot a £650 a week bill to keep her husband at the nursing home. In the long term, it is hoped he will be able to return home once a comprehensive care package can be put in place, but his family believe they will never get him back.
“His life is over,” said Kathryn. “Everything has been wiped out – his memories, his personality, his independence and his dignity. He is there but not there. We just hope he is not aware of his situation and that it is all washing over him because he would be mortified.”