“It feels so good to be home.” They are the words of Bilsthorpe woman Sara Baker who has finally been reunited with her family after a snowboarding accident in Canada left her with a broken back.
Sara was left stranded in the ski resort of Whistler for three months after she made the grim discovery she had forgotten to renew her insurance to pay for an air ambulance and her medical bills.
Doctors finally gave her the all-clear to fly back to the UK in time for her twin brother’s wedding, but she has been left with hospital charges stretching into thousands of pounds.
“I kick myself every day when I think about the insurance and what a difference it would have made,” said Sara, speaking from her parent’s New Road home.
“I was 100 per cent sure I had renewed my policy as I remember sitting at the computer doing it, but for some reason I didn’t complete the transaction.”
Sara, who was described by her mum Angela as a ‘rolling stone,’ shares her time between Bilsthorpe, Canada and Birmingham, where she went to university.
It was during a visit home to support her family after her three-year-old nephew Roman Baker had been diagnosed with a brain tumour, that she received a call from Canada to help out a friend.
“There was a lot going on at the time and it was just one of those things,” said Sara.
It was following Chad’s front page story in February highlighting Sara’s plight that widespread fundraising was undertaken.
“It’s just amazing what people have done for me,” said a grateful Sara, who was lucky not to be paralysed in the accident after suffering three broken vertebrae.
Villagers from Bilsthorpe have been rallying around the Baker family, holding coffee mornings, car boot sales, craft markets, raffles, tombolas and sponsored events.
And Sara’s friends in Birmingham held an auction, which raised £6,000.
“Even Roman, two months after his brain operation, completed a sponsored bike ride for me,” said Sara.
“But what happened to me was an accident and I was doing something I love. Roman is going through his own challenge which he hasn’t chosen – he is a true inspiration to me.”
The fundraising efforts paid for Sara’s mum, dad and twin brother Adam to briefly visit Sara in Vancouver to support her, as well as the Whistler hospital bills, where she was initially treated.
This totals around £10,000, but there is still a mountain of debt from the Vancouver hospital to pay.
“I couldn’t believe it when my family arrived – I was trying to be strong and reassure them that I was OK as I knew they couldn’t afford to come over. I was so grateful when it was made possible through the generosity of friends. It meant the world to me.”
Sara is making steady progress through physiotherapy but most of all through her steely determination - despite being uncharacteristically limited in her movements.
“I’m trying to be patient and not push things too far, but it’s difficult as I am normally so active,” she said.
“I expect to be wearing my back brace for a further two months, which is really frustrating at times but even though I am still in pain it is getting easier.”
“There are moments I forget my limitations though and I have to check myself. My brother is organising a paintballing fundraiser for Roman and I said ‘sign me up’ before he reminded me that I couldn’t do it.”
But Sara did manage to walk down the aisle at her brother’s wedding to Sarah, which was hastily brought forward to 12th May after it was decided Roman would need further brain surgery.
“It’s time to focus on my nephew now,” added Sara.
“In the meantime I’m just trying to take it easy for the first time in my life and be grateful for the small things.
“A friend said maybe my accident was the universe’s way of getting me to slow down.”
love travelling and I miss Canada but it’s made me realise how proud I am of my family and where I come from.”