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Guts got Sarah racing for life

PUBLISHED: 15:53 08 May 2008 | UPDATED: 11:02 03 July 2010

Following a catastrophic motorbike accident over four years ago Sarah Woods was not expected on the basis of brain scans to ever walk or talk again.

Experts treating the high-flier pharmacist prepared her parents Julie and Ted Woods for a lifetime of dependency, caring for their twin daughter who was left with the capabilities of someone who had suffered a life-shattering stroke.

Following a catastrophic motorbike accident over four years ago Sarah Woods was not expected on the basis of brain scans to ever walk or talk again.

Experts treating the high-flier pharmacist prepared her parents Julie and Ted Woods for a lifetime of dependency, caring for their twin daughter who was left with the capabilities of someone who had suffered a life-shattering stroke.

But on Sunday, along with thousands of others, she completed the 5km Race for Life, carried along by the good will of others including serious runners who found breath to yell encouragement - and proving it was all about guts not gallop.

Supported by her mother and an every increasing gang of well-wishers the 33-year-old cut an inspiring figure leaning on her stick and making slow but determined progress long after everyone else had finished, crossing the line in a remarkable 2hrs 18mins.

Her mother Julie Woods, 59, said she was overwhelmed by her daughter's achievement after such a grim prognosis, and by the enthusiasm of friends and strangers at home in Hemsby and in Wrexham, Wales, where Sarah lived and worked at the time of the accident.

Mrs Woods thanked Race for Life organisers and sponsors who had helped to raise an estimated £700 in just two weeks.

She said: “We only decided two weeks ago that we were going to do it. I knew we were going to be very slow but the organisers were very supportive and said the race was for the money and that it was just a case of finishing. We started off with the walkers and I was pushing the empty wheelchair. A St John Ambulance girl walked with us all the way. By the end there was quite a crowd walking with us and applauding and cheering her and the people who were driving away were tooting. The support was absolutely amazing and she did the last bit absolutely on her own. When they said the final time was two hours and 18 minutes I could not believe it.”

The former Waveney First, Breydon Middle and Oriel High School pupil went on to study at East Norfolk Sixth Form College and De Montfort University, Leicester, before landing a job as a pharmacist in Wales.

Academic and active she was a member of the Territorial Army and used to run a church choir.

When the accident happened, during a motorbike lesson, she was just one lesson away from taking her test. The impact twisted her brain stem and the few fractures she sustained had healed by the time she regained consciousness. Mrs Woods stayed at her daughter's bedside in hospital and in a rehabilitation unit for two and a half years, with her husband visiting at weekends.

Finally, a decision was made to return to Norfolk and the family moved from Belton to Hemsby last year into the two new homes they built side-by-side.

Mrs Woods, who also has a son and twin grandsons, said Sarah retained her wicked sense of humour but struggled to settle in to a more sedate way of life after a high flying career, although she kept busy marking work done by students at the University of East Anglia and helping out with Guides and Brownies. Her effort was a personal and fundraising challenge she dedicated to her grandfather Roy Skelt and family friends Val Parsons and Brian Sweales, all lost to cancer.

There is still time to sponsor Sarah. Call 01493 732884.


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