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26th May, 2022

"In my mind I have enough miracles just being alive"

Ross Crawford 27th Aug, 2021

HIT by a car on October 25, 2019, so severe were Sheila Vale’s injuries that she didn’t realise until five months later she was paralysed from the chest down.

“I was in Leamington for rehabilitation for injuries to my brain and then at Oswestry for spinal injuries, right at the start of lockdown,” said the St Bede’s Middle School Assistant Principal.

“I was there from March to June and no visitors were allowed and that’s when I learnt I was paralysed.

“I had to telephone my husband Andy and my girls, and my dad, and that was hard.”

Despite this she forgives the driver who hit her as she walked her dog Max along Jill Lane that autumn morning.

“I genuinely believe it was an accident, and I forgive him,” said Sheila, who has just turned 50.

“This is part of my psychology from Leamington – when you get angry or upset, who feels it?

“I firmly believe he took enough of me that day and does not deserve anger or pity from me.”

The day of the accident Sheila had been looking forward to doing some early Christmas shopping.

Her walk through Sambourne, taking in Jill Lane, Oak Tree Lane and Middletown Lane and then back home to Studley, was a regular route, and despite it being light she was dressed in a hi-vis jacket and was carry a torch while Max wore a flashing collar.

The court heard she would have been visible for eight seconds to the driver, who suffers from Parkinson’s, and who was subsequently jailed for ten months after pleading guilty at Warwick Crown Court to causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

“I remember nothing of the accident, and I was carrying no ID, but Max was chipped and that was how they found Andy.”

Sheila was airlifted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham where the trauma team feared she wouldn’t make it.

She had three strokes and was placed in an induced coma to help her recovery.

“St Bede’s have been wonderful,” said Sheila, who says her faith has kept her going.

“The first Christmas they sent a minibus of children to the QE to sing carols in my room, and they were asked to sing to other patients and in the entrance.

“They have been praying for me too, and at Mount Carmel, St Mary’s CE in Studley and my dad’s church, Holy Trinity in Exmouth.

“In my mind I have enough miracles in just being alive.”

As for the future St Bede’s is keeping her on, and after initially having trouble counting – ‘how can I be a maths teacher and not able to count!’ – she says she is working on getting her brain up to speed.

The police have also been in touch to see if she could help tell of her experiences to law breaking drivers.

She would also like to go into secondary schools and talk to 6th formers on the brink of getting their driving licences.

A move to a bungalow is also essential and she has special thanks for Studley Leisure Centre where staff are letting her use their showers.

She’d also love to go and see her beloved Aston Villa play again.

“I also just want to thank everyone who saved my life – the paramedics and air ambulance crew, the critical care team at the QE, Leamington and Oswestry were amazing, my brothers and family who visited me,” she said.

“To drivers I would say that the speed limit is not a target, it’s a limit, to walkers and cyclists always wear something hi vis, and if you are a dog owner please ensure it is chipped as that is the only way they found my husband as I was walking with no ID on me.”

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