Clair's Story, our encephalitis awareness, film has been shortlisted for a Charity Film Award.

A live stream of the awards ceremony will begin on Tuesday, April 21, at 7pm - and we would love you to join us by watching the ceremony below.

Clair's Story

We are very proud of Clair's Story which was produced and directed by the team at Hewitt & Walker.

Clair Bennett is a member of the Encephalitis Society who woke up in hospital after falling ill with encephalitis. She had no idea that the strangers by her bedside were her parents.

Five years on and Clair still has short-term memory loss and relies on a diary to plan every task throughout the week. The voice we hear in the film is that of her dad, Mark.

There is still time for you to vote for Clair's Story in the Charity Film Awards.

About Clair

Clair with her mum and dad, Penny and Mark

Read Clair's story

(Via the New York Post)

Imagine waking up and not knowing who you are, what you do or how to do something as basic as feed yourself.

Well, that was the nightmare one successful computer analyst found herself living after her memory was wiped by a rare brain infection.

Clair Bennett, from Swanley, Kent, in England, had finally moved into her own pad in 2015 when she was struck down by encephalitis.

Now 29, she’d been complaining of “violent headaches” and feeling increasingly feverish before falling seriously ill with a dangerous inflammation of the brain.

After only a few minutes, she couldn’t remember anything.

She’s had to relearn every single thing about her life and how to live and uses a planner which lists any and every small task Bennett has to complete on any given day.

Her dad and full-time caretaker, Mark, 60, is speaking out about his daughter’s ordeal ahead of World Encephalitis Day, tomorrow.

“Clair is so positive and always smiling, but she couldn’t dwell on the negatives even if she wanted to, as she forgets them,” he said.

“As a family, we do all consider ourselves lucky when you see how encephalitis impacts some people, but her short term memory has been hugely affected. Now, she forgets things within a few minutes,” he added.

He explained that if you now tell Bennett a number and asks her to repeat it ten minutes later, she’ll have “no recollection of ever being told it”.

In fact, she can’t even remember the six months leading up to her illness – despite jetting off to Oz for a solo trip right before she fell ill.

In January 2015, she began to get headaches and fevers, which a doctor told her was probably just down to a flu-like bug.

But by Jan. 12, her condition had deteriorated dramatically.

“Clair’s work had phoned her flatmate to say she hadn’t come in, asking if she was okay,” Mark said.

“When she went to check on her, Clair was really disorientated, asking if she was in America. She phoned me to let me know what was going on, but I wasn’t sure why any of this was happening, or what to think of it, which I feel guilty about now,” he added.

Bennett was rushed to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in southeast London, and when Mark arrived, medics told him that she’d contracted encephalitis.

According to The Encephalitis Society, 500,000 children and adults worldwide are affected by the infection every year – yet, stats by YouGov suggest 78 percent of the public don’t even know what it is.

The next morning, Mark and wife, Penny, returned to their daughter’s bedside to find that Bennett was still very disorientated.

“She kept asking if we had missed Christmas and then, when I asked if she knew who we were, she said no. As a dad, that still makes me emotional – for your own daughter not to recognize you,” he said.

After a two-week stint in the hospital, Bennett was discharged, although it was obvious that her memory had been seriously affected.

She could recall things that had happened in the past but had next to no short-term memory.

Mark explained: “Thankfully, she’d got back who we were and could remember things like where she grew up and who her old friends were.

“But she couldn’t hold on to short-term memories. Friends would come round and visit and she’d soon forget she’d even seen them.”

Just three days after being discharged, Bennett was struck by encephalitis a second time.

Mark added: “She came downstairs one morning and seemed really wobbly, as if she could fall over at any second. The only thing I could think to do was what I’d seen on TV, where police test drunk drivers, getting them to count back from 20. She tried, but couldn’t do it.”

This time, she was kept in the hospital for over two months and her short-term memory was even worse.

On one family holiday that year, Bennett asked 48 times in a 90-minute journey if her dad had her passport.

Following several ECG scans, doctors have now tragically confirmed that Bennett is unlikely to see any vast improvement.

Determined not to give up, however, Bennett is learning to cope by keeping a daily diary where she records everything she’s done that day, as well as reminders to do things like wash and eat.

“She needs to be able to physically tick things off to remind her she’s done them, or she’ll have no idea,” Mark said.

“For example, she still loves cooking, but she has to follow recipes with a tick list, otherwise she’ll forget she has already finished a step, and start peeling a load of potatoes or prepping veg again. She can very easily get disorientated in new places, too,” he added.

These days, routine is vital to Bennett, as the only thing she finds helps her cling on to short-term memories is repetition.

Every Monday, she goes to the gym, Tuesdays are spent with her grandparents, Wednesdays involve more exercise, followed by art of piano lessons. Thursdays she volunteers in a charity shop and Fridays are spent with the brain injury charity, Headway.

Despite having learnt to play before her accident, Bennett often surprises herself at what a talented musician she is.

Mark said: “She’d been learning before the illness but doesn’t remember. Her teacher was actually Tokio Myers, who went on to win ‘Britain’s Got Talent.’ ”

Bennett and Mark want to raise awareness of encephalitis and the life-changing impact the illness can have.

“I am thankful I don’t remember any of being ill. I have my old memories back, but struggle with anything since. Even if my short-term memory does come back, I will still keep my diary though. I wouldn’t be without it,” Bennett said.

“I can look back on any given day of my life for the past four years, and know exactly what I did – even if I can’t remember it. I always look for the positives, and even though I can’t make new memories, I know I’m still getting a lot out of life now,” she added.

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