Johnny's Happy Place running events in aid of counsellor Alex

Johnny's Happy Place (JHP) are running two events in the coming months to raise money for their volunteer Alex, who was paralysed last year.

Friday, 20th September 2019, 12:32 pm
Updated Thursday, 30th January 2020, 5:20 pm

A Northern Soul night on Saturday, November 2, and a comedy night the following Saturday will be raising money to go towards equipment and other rehabilitation costs that Alex needs.

Alex said: "Hopefully I will be at both [events]. I'm a bit blown away by it to be honest, they've gone out of their way to help me."

Johnny's Happy Place was set up following the death of Johnny Mackay in 2014 and the community interest group runs a community cafe in Kettering's Keystone centre where a counsellor is available on a drop in basis on Saturdays, 11am to 2pm.

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Johnny's sister Charlotte said: "Alex was a volunteer with us right from the start, we didn’t know him before but he had been volunteering and he was training to be a counsellor at Mind in Corby.

"He was on his way back from training in March 2018, during the Beast from the East, when his car slid into a ditch."

Alex said he thinks his neck was damaged and then the disc in his neck was cracked when he tried to push the car out of the ditch.

Alex said: "I was walking around for five days after with no pain."

On the seventh day following the accident, Alex woke up and could not walk, he said: "It was a bit of a shock."

Johnny's mum, Denise said: "Equipment and physio is so expensive, we just want to raise as much money as possible."

Alex said he had been volunteering at Johnny's Happy Place for almost four years before the accident.

"I was unemployed for a good eight years and I started volunteering," Alex said.

He said the support from Johnny's Happy Place enabled him to get a job and start working for the mental health charity Mind.

Alex is starting his counsellor training again in October and hopes to be qualified by Easter. He said he would definitely volunteer as a counsellor for JHP.

A raffle held by JHP last summer raid £688 for Alex, who put it towards a wheelchair treadmill, which allows him to turn the wheels of his chair without moving forward and helps in his rehabilitation.

Alex said the funds raised by these events will go towards either a new carbon fibre wheel chair or more rehabilitation therapy. He currently pays £75 per session for hydrotherapy.

Alex added: "They help people all the time, Denise should be up for an award. It's unbelievable what they have done for a lot of people."

The Northern Soul night on Saturday, November 2 will be at Kettering Athletic Club in Rockingham Road. Tickets are £5 and are available online here or in JHP's cafe when it is open on Saturdays and Sundays.

A Comedy Gig for Alex will be taking place at Kettering Arts Centre in St Andrew's church on Saturday, November 9. The line up features Ed Night, Joe Sutherland and Crime Scene Improvisation.

All three acts have had successful runs at the world-famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival and you can see them for just £8 and also available online or JHP cafe.

Johnny's Happy Place has been raising money for Alex but the community interest company's main focus is their cafe in the Keystone centre on Rockingham Road, which is open 10am to 2pm every weekend.

Denise said: "It's open to everyone, anybody could come. They can come and do their knitting, read their book, whatever.

"We want it to be a community cafe. Where else can you get coffee and cake for £1?

"We want people to think of us a bit like Costa, but a friendly or cheap version."

Charlotte said their mantra is what would Johnny do so they aim to be as generous as possible with their services, like providing a free counsellor drop in and not charging for children's activities at their summer fete.

JHP's website said: "We wanted to create something wonderful in Johnny's memory which we hope will be a lasting legacy to the most unique, warm, funny, talented and compassionate person."

The cafe is described as "inspiring well-being through community and creativity".

You can find out more about Johnny and Johnny's Happy Place cafe at their website.