Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

'It's Unlikely I'll Walk Again - but I Still Have a Paralympic Dream'

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

'It's Unlikely I'll Walk Again - but I Still Have a Paralympic Dream'

Article excerpt

Byline: Ian Johnson Reporter

DETERMINED Olivia Fairclough admits it is unlikely she will ever walk again - but has vowed it will not stop her fulfilling her Paralympic dream.

In just a few cruel seconds, the 31-year-old horse rider's life changed forever when, while in Egypt, her horse crushed her.

But her spirit wasn't crushed and, as she continues to recover at James Cook hospital, Middlesbrough she is determined to one day ride again.

"I have no fear at all of getting back on a horse," said Olivia, of Stockton.

Her world was turned upside in April when, despite 27 years of experience on the saddle, she suffered a freak fall which left her with life-altering injuries.

"I just remember sitting on the horse then waking up on the sand not being able to move or breathe," recalled the former Egglescliffe School pupil. She was rushed to hospital but it emerged her insurance had expired - leaving her facing a hefty PS30k bill.

"The hospital in Egypt was absolutely horrendous - I never want to go back there," added Olivia.

Through the internet, her brother Trevor pleaded for money to bring her home. Within days, her story had gone viral and within weeks enough cash had been raised to get her back to the UK.

But while there was joy at raising the money, Olivia battled personal heartbreak as the extent of what had happened slowly dawned on her.

"It really dawned on me when I realised I couldn't move my body," she said.

"After a week I thought I'd slowly start to get better but still couldn't' move. After the operation I thought I'd definitely get better but still nothing."

"No sensation, no movement - it started to sink in. I'm realising now I don't think I will walk again."

The admission is agonising, but for Olivia, every cloud has a silver lining. In her first full interview since returning to Teesside, she beams as she talks about the progress she makes - and her golden ambitions.

She now has the use of a wheelchair - a giant step - but she wants to swap the seat for a saddle. …

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