Vicky sets sights on Paralympics

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LITTLE more than seven years ago she faced the having her left leg amputated after being flung from her treasured motorbike.

But today, former Central Lancaster High School pupil Vicky Widdup, 25, is preparing to represent her country at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.

Vicky, was just 18 when the accident happened as she travelled along the A6 towards Lancaster in July 2005.

She had been shopping in Preston and was preparing to head to Liverpool Hope University to study psychology that September.

Vicky remembers “every little detail” of the accident, which happened when she collided with a car which had emerged from a side road.

“The force of the impact made me roll over the car, eventually landing on my bum,” she said.

“I remember my footwear flying off through the air and me laughing at how surreal it all seemed.”

Unbelievably, she staggered to her feet, but was quickly confronted with the devastating injuries.

“I felt the pain like no other pain I have ever felt in my life,” she said.

Help soon arrived but Vicky’s first question to a paramedic was, ‘Where is my baby’?

“Her face went white and I repeated, ‘Where is my baby, where is my motorbike?’” said Vicky.

“She laughed and said, ‘You’re lying here with your leg in this condition and you’re worried about your bike’.”

Vicky was taken to the Royal Preston Hospital. One of her friends, who she had been with earlier that day, called her mum Margaret, who lives on Regent Park Avenue, Morecambe.

Surgeons carried out a new procedure to avoid amputating Vicky’s leg, which had suffered seven fractures between the ankle and the knee.

Vicky fought to regain some form of mobility in time for her first term at university.

But how did she escape the flashbacks and the image of paramedics “cutting off my clothes”, to become part of the Great Britain’s women’s Paralympic volleyball team? Vicky credits much of her recovery to her mum. “I spent the whole summer stuck at home in recovery,” she said.

“My mum was great with looking after me and making sure I got out of the house.

“I was so tired I could hardly do anything.

“But I did not want to waste any more time like this and have the accident mess my life up.

“So I taught myself to walk on crutches non weight bearing so I could go to university.”

Vicky was told she would never walk without a stick, but saw that as a challenge.

Having walked unaided at her graduation ceremony, she yearned to start proper exercise.

“I wanted to play sports and not have to take medication for the pain anymore.

“I am stubborn and I worked hard every day on my physiotherapy rehab,” she said.

It was quite by chance that she took up volleyball at the suggestion of a work colleague, despite the warning that if she broke her leg again she could face amputation. “I was well aware of the risks, but volleyball is none contact. I went along and it was great fun,” she said.

“But I had trouble running and jumping, all the things you need for standing volleyball.”

On her coach’s advice, Vicky applied for the sitting volleyball team and she has not looked back, being chosen to represent Great Britain after success with a local club.

Vicky, who is doing a masters degree in counselling, has taken a six month break from her job as a well being therapist in Dartford to prepare for the Paralympics.

Her teammates include Martine Wiltshire, who lost both her legs in the July 7 bombings.

Her mum, dad Ian, brother Jason, 28, and sister Jessica, 16, will watch her compete, with the first match scheduled for August 31.

“This is the biggest sporting event in the world, here in our home country – this may not happen again in my lifetime,” she said.

“The sense of opportunity is immense.

“I’ll be with some of the best athletes in the world, and I’m incredibly proud to represent my country,”

Although Vicky is unsure what the future holds, it certainly looks rosy. For a woman who thought she might never walk again, that’s enough.