Crash victim gains independence back

PUBLISHED: 16:26 25 June 2009 | UPDATED: 14:15 03 July 2010

Back in the driving seat: Emma Woolnough

Back in the driving seat: Emma Woolnough

FACING up to the prospect of living the majority of their life with an artificial leg would be enough to fill many young people with fear at the likely loss of independence and mobility.

FACING up to the prospect of living the majority of their life with an artificial leg would be enough to fill many young people with fear at the likely loss of independence and mobility.

But 25-year-old Gorleston woman Emma Woolnough has proved it isn't the end of the world and since losing part of her left leg following a horrific car accident in Lowestoft Road, Gorleston in February last year.

As the photos testify, the former Cliff Park High School pupil has passed her driving test since the accident and taken delivery of a new Nissan Qashqai car.

Returning to work at Coral Bookmakers on the Magdalen estate has also boosted her confidence and although her artificial leg currently restricts her to working 20 hour weeks, she hopes to return to working 40 hour weeks.

Looking relaxed and invigorated, she said: “I have some good days and some bad days. I try to be as positive as I can because my attitude was always that a negative attitude would not get me anywhere.

“Having my car and getting back to work has improved things and made things better, but it is always something I am going to have to deal with.”

Emma, who lives in Upper Cliff Road, can now go on regular walking trips, albeit with more forward planning to consider whether she will have to negotiate a slope.

She said: “The first time I started walking unaided I could only walk for about 10 minutes but the time has got longer and hopefully I will soon be able to walk further.”

Keen Chelsea fan Emma said visits to the Julian Hospital in Norwich for replacement prosthetic limbs were becoming more infrequent as her leg became more stable.

She was also full of praise for her employer for helping her settle back into work following the accident. The bookmaker moved her from her previous branch in Lowestoft Way to Magdalen Way because it was undergoing refurbishment which included new facilities to suit her needs.

The safe and counter are raised, while Emma has a special seat providing support for her legs and back.

“They have been absolutely brilliant. I could not have asked for them to be anymore understanding or accommodating. I had only been working there three-and-a-half months when I had the accident. They could have easily given me a lump sum payment, but they didn't, they kept the position open for me.”

However, she has had occasional counselling to help overcome darker moments.

Her leg was amputated at the knee following the crash when a car veered off the road, hitting her and two elderly pedestrians.

The elderly driver was given an eight month suspended sentence and banned for driving for three years for dangerous driving in October.

Miss Woolnough is due to hear in February the results of a compensation claim against the driver's insurance.

She added: “I think it is going to be with me for the rest of my life and anything can bring the memories back. Sometimes, especially at this time of the year, there will be girls walking round in shorts and skirts and I remember I can't do that.”

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