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Fighting back after horrific accident

PUBLISHED: 14:29 12 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:44 03 July 2010

WHEN Emma Woolnough lost a leg after being ploughed down by a pensioner later deemed unfit to drive, she found it hard to see how her life could return to anything resembling normality.

WHEN Emma Woolnough lost a leg after being ploughed down by a pensioner later deemed unfit to drive, she found it hard to see how her life could return to anything resembling normality.

Previously she had everything to look forward to, aged 23 and with a new job at a bookmakers around the corner from her family home in Gorleston.

But last February, 86-year-old Allan Skoyles, who had undergone eight heart bypass operations, suffered a stroke and was registered deaf, got behind the wheel of his car, mounted the pavement after accidentally hitting the accelerator, and crashed into an elderly couple and Emma, who was walking to work.

Now, nearly a year on from the crash, the girl who used to enjoy clubbing with friends has had to come to terms with some tough realities. But after four operations and a leg amputation below the knee, Emma has battled to walk again with a prosthetic limb, started taking driving lessons, and is looking forward to going back to work.

“It has changed my outlook on life completely,” she says. “I was always such a pessimistic person before, but it really does make you think - now I realise that all the little things you worry about from day to day are not important.”

She says she tends not to think about the driver, who was given an eight-month suspended prison sentence and surrendered his licence. “I wouldn't say I've forgiven him, but I never wanted him to go to prison; it wasn't intentional. I'm just content that he won't be able to do it again.”

Emma has regained much of her old life, enjoying shopping trips with her family to Norwich and going to the cinema with friends, although she admits that walking for anything further than a short distance is tiring.

She has found strength from her parents Carol and Kevan, and 19-year-old brother Tom. “We were close as a family before but this has brought us so much closer,” she says.

But her biggest achievement during her recovery was tinged with sadness. In June she took her first steps with her new limb, aided by sticks, in front of her grandfather, who died later that day.

Now, with 2008 firmly in the past, Emma is looking forward to a new year and fresh challenges. So what does she most want to do?

“Well, firstly I want to make this a better year than last year,” she said. “I really do need to get back to work and I'd like to pass my driving test so I can get some independence back.

“In the longer term I want to go back to college and study some form of art. And I want to get on a plane and go to New York and take my family with me.”


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