May 4, 2023 5.00 pm This story is over 10 months old

‘One punch changed our lives forever’: Lincoln woman’s heartbreaking brain injury message

Dave sadly died in October 2022

The partner of a much-loved Lincoln man is determined to raise awareness after he suffered a tragic brain injury on a night out, which severely affected his life, and he sadly died eight months later.

Dave Sampson, 32, was out with friends in Lincoln on February 19 last year when he went to the smoking area outside Walkabout on the High Street.

Partner Rosellen Henderson said he was then suddenly punched in the back of the head. He fell forwards and hit the front of his head on the ground and was knocked unconscious. He was taken to hospital with a bleed on the brain.

Dave with his partner Rosellen on New Year’s Eve 2018. | Photo: Rosellen Henderson

Dave, who worked for Fox Electrical Supplies Ltd, spent around five days in hospital before being discharged. He was advised to take time off work and wasn’t allowed to do any sport for six weeks, which was a big passion of his.

No surgery was needed as the bleeding on the brain stopped itself, but Dave’s face was battered and bruised, and he was confused with no memory of the night out, Rosellen said.

Sadly, Dave suffered many struggles since the brain injury and lost his life on October 20, 2022 at the age of 32.

Dave loved spending time with his friends. | Photo: Rosellen Henderson

The one-punch attacker was jailed, but the repercussions of their assault will be felt forever for the young family.

Dave’s partner of five years Rosellen, who was pregnant at the time, wants to raise more awareness about brain injuries after seeing a big change in Dave after the incident.

Dave and Rosellen at their baby gender reveal in 2022. | Photo: Rosellen Henderson

She said: “He was never an anxious man or paranoid and was a really happy-go-lucky chap, but he became really conscious of what people thought of him. He didn’t feel himself and didn’t understand why.

“Dave’s life motivations were football, seeing his friends, creating new memories and having fun. Then all of that was taken away from him, as well as not feeling himself and lost.

“He used to be able to quote facts about the Olympics and football, and could memorise all the product codes in the catalogue at work, but after the accident he found he was not able to do that which confused him and became over stimulating. His memory started to be affected and he was confused.

“The brain influences so much of our lives and we don’t look after it well enough. When we have a brain injury, it is really important to seek help, especially if you have changes in our behaviour and don’t feel right.

“More people need to chase things up if they don’t feel right and seek the right support from the people around you. It is important to be open and honest with how you’re feeling to your healthcare providers and support network.”

Dave and his twin sister Rebecca at her wedding in 2021. | Photo: Rosellen Henderson

In August last year, Dave had to stop working and saw local mental health support, as well as a private therapist.

Rosellen, who was heavily pregnant at the time, said she thought Dave was getting better, but sadly he lost his battle.

Dave and Rosellen in Mexico in 2022. | Photo: Rosellen Henderson

The couple’s baby – Elizabeth Jennifer Sampson – was born in December 2022. “She looks exactly like him and has his big blue eyes, and his legacy lives on through her,” Rosellen said.

“Our whole life has been turned upside down and the future has been taken away from me and my daughter, all because a guy was drunk and decided to punch my boyfriend. I have to live with that for the rest of my life.

“Sometimes it is really hard for the person who it happened to to reach out. I spent a lot of time encouraging him to reach out to his family and friends.

“It is important to just support them and be there as much as you can and to listen.”

Dave with his friend Adam Towler. | Photo: Rosellen Henderson

She added: “He was a man who connected with anyone and everyone. He connected in such a way that he left a really good impression and helped them a lot, and that really shone through his funeral which was attended by over 200 people.”

After Dave’s death, Rosellen posted about the one punch incident on social media and received a lot of support from the local community. She also had a message from someone in Australia whose brother had been attacked and after the woman read her post she managed to get her brother to open up about it.

Rosellen has arranged a Day for Dave event in his memory which will take place at Ruston Sports & Social Club from 1pm on July 15, 2023.

There will be a family fun day, a memorial football match between two teams Dave played for (Ruston Sports and Fulbeck FC), as well as raffle prizes and evening entertainment.

Dave on Skegness beach with his dog Charlie. | Photo: Rosellen Henderson

All proceeds will be split between three charities – Guide Dogs UK and Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, which were close to Dave’s heart, and Headway Lincolnshire, who help improve life after brain injuries.

Anyone who is able to donate raffle prizes or offer services for the family-fun element of the day should email [email protected].

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