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A Journey of Resilience and Recovery: Steph's Story

Steph is a beloved TWR member and was a Co-Community Leader of TWR Bedford before having a life-changing accident. Here, we share the heartfelt story of her journey towards recovery, the incredible support she has received from the members of This Woman Runs and the amazing fundraising relay her friends, family, and TWR community are doing for Thames Valley Air Ambulance.


 

Tonight I went to meet my lovely TWR Bedford ladies. It was very emotional to say the least. I miss them and I miss the miles spent chatting and putting the World to rights. They’ve all been wonderful at keeping in touch but it is not quite the same without the bond of putting one foot in front of the other together. But it got me thinking about the support I’ve had through running and TWR both pre and post-accident.


In January 2023, I was pretty happy with how my running was going. I was managing to get out 3 to 4 times a week including 2 TWR (well, TMR at the time) runs each week. I was increasing my distance each week as I was training for the Brighton Marathon. I was getting a little faster and as a fair-weather runner even tolerating the winter weather. And then the 24th of January came around and it all changed.


Through no fault of my own, I was involved in a head-on road traffic collision. I don’t remember it and spent the next few weeks in Critical Care. It took a while for me to be aware of my surroundings and to piece together what had happened. But in simple terms, I ran 14 miles on 22nd January. Over a month later, I woke up in a hospital bed to the realisation that I was now bedbound and entirely dependent on the nursing staff, friends, and family.


Over a year on and it is not yet clear if or when I will run again. I’m walking and getting gradually faster. I’m slowly learning to navigate uneven terrain and I can walk 5K. I’ve tried hard to apply my running mentality to walking but it turns out that’s not so easy. But weirdly I have learned some things about running.


Every run has a purpose. It might be a short run or a longer run. You may run with others or there may be occasions when you crave solitude and headspace. Sometimes a summer evening run in the sun is just what the doctor ordered. But that feeling of achievement when you return from a run in the pouring rain is like no other. Every short run I did kept me in the habit of getting out, making getting started on a long run that much easier! Running with TWR meant that I could enjoy some solo running on the way to meet up with the other ladies but then enjoy some important chatty miles. I was a fair-weather runner but had reached a point where I would head out come rain or shine, whatever the temperature! I even attempted to run in the snow once (I hate snow!).


Steph before her accident.


Run for fitness. Run for company. Run for solitude. Run for headspace. Run fast. Run slow. But overall, run because you enjoy it. Run because you love it…or at the very least you love the feeling after you have finished. Although I cannot run right now, I remember fondly the things running brought me. I loved feeling fit. I loved running with the TWR Bedford crew but there were evenings when I just needed the miles after work to decompress. My targets were my own and I learned not to compare those with others. Looking back, no run was a bad run. They all contributed to all those outcomes. I didn’t know this at the time but I know it now.


At the moment, I find it just a bit too painful to see others running on social media and as such I have withdrawn from the various TWR groups that I was a member of including my lovely Bedford. I’ll come back when and if I can. I want to say thank you to everyone who has been in touch - messages and comments on Facebook and Instagram have been appreciated. And a big thank you to those who have sponsored my husband and friends on their upcoming 43-mile relay run to raise money for Thames Valley Air Ambulance who saved my life on the 24th of January 2023. And an extra special thank you to my TWR Bedford ladies taking part - it means the World to me that you will be there on the day. 


Steph with her family supporting Thames Valley Air Ambulance.


Toby - Steph's Husband, friends, family and TWR Bedford community are set to run a 43-mile relay to fundraise for Thames Valley Air Ambulance which helped save Steph's life, the event is aptly named This Helicopter Runs!


More information on the relay can be found here and donations can be made via Just Giving.

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