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Street’s ahead

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Last August, my husband Gary (commonly known as Streety/Gaz/Great Ballancino) underwent a planned heart bypass operation. Unfortunately, complications led to a blood clot on his brain, and he suffered a massive stroke. The following four weeks in intensive care revealed extensive damage affecting speech, breathing and movement. Gary was paralysed on his right side as were his vocal cords. He then went on to face additional challenges including a lung infection, an emergency tracheotomy and sepsis. He was unable to swallow, speak or move. Surrounded by life-saving equipment, Gary was unable to be visited by his young sons, Ben and Peter, who could only imagine what was going on and had to be prepared for what the future may entail.

Despite a grim prognosis, Gary, showing typical courage and determination, then began to fight back. After five months in four different hospitals, he’s relearned swallowing, regained mobility in his paralysed limbs, developed core strength and begun walking short distances. As his condition has improved, his humour and mischievous personality have resurfaced. He’s still in there!

Now with discharge under consideration, Gary will need ongoing therapy and support. His vocal cords remain paralysed, limiting his airway and compromising his breathing when moving around. He is still at the very early stages of learning to talk again. Nerve damage in his left arm and hand causes pain, significantly impacting his day to day living skills and his independence, not to mention his ability to balance a chair on his forehead! Although he is unable to form many words, he still manages to entertain and amuse everyone around him and has found a unique way to communicate using his expressive eyebrows!

The future is uncertain. While he has surpassed doctors' expectations, the chance of full recovery remains unknown. Daily intensive physiotherapy, along with speech and occupational therapy, is essential to continue his progress. Upon discharge, he faces a two-year wait for speech therapy and a four-month wait for physiotherapy. That’s why I am reaching out to the rugby family to rally around and help fund these services so that Gary's relentless fight for recovery can continue immediately as he leaves the hospital. Additionally, funds raised will contribute towards ensuring Gary can become as independent as possible with any further equipment needed and home adjustments as necessary.

Gary is renowned for his work with the England Women’s team, culminating in the 2014 World Cup win. Subsequently, he earned widespread respect for his work with the Harlequins academy, overseeing the development of many current 1st team players. In his personal time, Gary has also devoted countless hours driving around the country to deliver sessions to players and coaches of all ages and abilities who asked for his help.

He has given his time generously and has shared his knowledge freely, with passion and enthusiasm. He has a particular love for grassroots clubs and enjoys working alongside them, guiding and inspiring the next generation of rugby players.

(Gary coaching girls at Crowborough RFC)

(Boys from the Spec Foundation who Gary has helped with books, school supplies and kit donations)

Gary has helped people in many different walks of life and has made meaningful connections with so many, dedicating his time to supporting various charities. This is evident in the outpouring of love and support he has received from far and wide during these difficult months. If you can practically show this love and support, you can make a real difference and give Gary every chance of rebuilding and regaining the life he once had.

Thank you

Helen, Ben and Peter.


Following the emotionally overwhelming start to our campaign and the outpouring of love, we have been blown away by the speed of reaching our target of £50K. Gary can’t quite believe the support which is being shown to him by the rugby community and beyond and it is a massive boost for his spirits in his recovery knowing that he will be able to continue his treatment when he leaves hospital.

In our wildest dreams, we didn’t expect the reaction we have seen and with the campaign gaining momentum, after much consideration we have taken the sensitive decision to increase the target to £75K. There are many other things Gary will need to help his quality of life and we just didn’t think for a minute that we would be able to raise these funds through Go Fund Me until this point.

We are starting to assess the changes needed to our home and these will include such things as structural changes in the bathroom and kitchen, an adjustable bed, changes to access into the house etc. We are also looking into a mobility scooter, and the potential change of vehicle this would need. We have accepted that it is extremely unlikely that Gary will ever work again and we are getting our heads around the long term impact of that.

There are still many unknowns moving forward and this became a stark reality in the last few days when Gary was taken back into ICU due to issues with his breathing. He is stable but it does make us realise that he has a long way to go despite his recent progress.

Once again, we would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude for every single donation and well wishes we have received as a family – it really does mean the world to us.



  • Anonymous
    • £100 
    • 3 hrs
  • Nigel Gowing
    • £175 
    • 2 d
  • Anonymous
    • £15 
    • 9 d
  • Anonymous
    • £30 
    • 11 d
  • Ajeet Karandikar
    • £470 
    • 14 d

Fundraising team (3)

Aaron Crossman
Helen Street
Chris Jenkins
Team member

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