The kind-hearted nephew of a lady who had a freak fall resulting in life changing injuries has taken on a 45 mile running challenge in one weekend to raise funds for Sheffield Hospitals Charity.

Philip Cowley took part in a 26.2 mile marathon, a 10k and a 13.1 mile half marathon over two days, after his Auntie, Sue Crookes (66), fell down the stairs at home, dislocating her neck and severely damaging her spinal cord.

Sue was told she may never walk again, but thanks to the ‘amazing staff’ at The Princess Royal Spinal Injuries Unit at the Northern General Hospital, she has defied all expectations, being able to walk again – and even pick up her grandchildren.

Philip was so in awe of her strength, determination and will to never give up; he decided to raise funds in recognition of the incredible work of the staff on the Unit.

"We were told she may never walk again – or even worse..."

He said: “When my Auntie Sue fell down the stairs at home our family was rocked. We were told she may never walk again – or even worse. If she did make it through the lifesaving operations, whatever stage she was at within the next 18 months would be the best we could hope for. 

“She needed an invasive operation, thankfully which was successful. Just two days after this, she could feel her right big toe being touched, and could lift her arms.

“From there started almost a year of rehabilitation getting back to her old self. She transformed from being totally dependent, to her being able to walk short distances with the aid of crutches. She can also climb stairs, pick up and hug her grandchildren again, keep up with her housework and even do a little cooking. 

“Even though she is at home, the support she has received from the professionals is still there. She has home physiotherapy once a fortnight and is now working towards her next target - getting back to her gardening next summer and possibly driving again. 

“Auntie Sue had the most amazing care, support and professional expertise imaginable from every single member of hospital staff. There just aren’t enough superlatives to describe the wonderful, dedicated, skilled, supportive people who put her back well and truly on the road to recovery. We will all forever be in their debt.”

The Princess Royal Spinal Cord Injuries Centre treats patients who have injured their spinal cord. It is the second largest specialist centre in the country and provides surgery, therapy and rehabilitation.

Each year more than 8,500 patients visit the Centre, from Sheffield and across South Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

The Centre houses three spinal wards, containing 64 beds. It provides a range of facilities for its patients including a dedicated outpatients facility, occupational therapy suite, surgical theatre, gym and hydro-pool.

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