Firms rally to help Braunton family

NORTH Devon is rallying around to help a Braunton family whose lives were turned upside down by a devastating crash on the North Devon Link Road, only days after Christmas. Just hours after being airlifted to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital on Decembe

NORTH Devon is rallying around to help a Braunton family whose lives were turned upside down by a devastating crash on the North Devon Link Road, only days after Christmas.Just hours after being airlifted to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital on December 28 last year, mum-of-two Katie Major was told by surgeons that she would never walk again.The 34-year-old had been driving her grandmother back to the West Midlands when her car hit black ice near Rackenford, spinning out of control and crashing into a tree.Despite a six-hour operation to repair her broken spine, Katie has been left paralysed from the chest down.This week Katie, her husband Mark, 33, and children, Sam, eight, and Ben, four, are still coming to terms with the massive impact the event has had on their lives.But while, hospitals, schools, friends and family are all doing their bit to help, an offer of support from the local business community is also helping to strengthen the family's resolve. Organisers of an annual charity go-karting challenge for local businesses have said they'll hold this summer's event to raise money to help the family.Paul Momber, managing director of Barnstaple-based Absolute Driver Solutions, said all the money raised at the "Absolute Challenge Cup" event would go to help the family to buy a �5,000 specialised wheelchair.Mr Momber, who met Chivenor mechanic Mark at a local business league meeting, said: "As a company, we're delighted to be able to help out such a fantastic young family."Their lives have changed completely but Katie is one positive young lady and I wouldn't be surprised to see her in the Olympics one day."As well as organising the June 13 event, Mr Momber is planning to raise money by learning to Morris dance with Bideford-based Tarka Morris group.He said: "I'm being sponsored to train with the group every Tuesday between now and this summer's Pilton Green Man Festival, where I hope to perform a two-stick dance."The Tarka Morris men will also be holding collections for the family at various events."To sponsor Paul, readers can telephone him on (01271) 377430.LESS than two months after Katie Major's life-changing accident, husband Mark said his wife had astounded doctors with her courage and determination to get on with her life.The couple both know that they will have to make a number of massive changes as a result of December's A361 accident - but they are determined that life will go on for them and their young family."Katie was obviously upset when she was told that she wouldn't walk again but has accepted it very quickly," Mark told the Gazette."She wants to get on and lead a normal life and she's not the type to give up. One of her surgeons said he'd never met anyone so strong-willed."Katie has her days when she feels fed up; not about the accident because she can't change that, but about being stuck in hospital."Katie is very strong-minded and has still got more than half her life to live; life goes on and she has set herself a target to be back home with her family in three months."Mark and the children have been making daily trips to hospital in Exeter and now North Devon District Hospital, Barnstaple, where Katie was transferred to on January 23."We've been back and forth to Exeter by car and train, mainly every day, and stayed over in Travelodges during the weekends," Mark told the Gazette."The children have been fantastic. Ben is only four but is taking it in that mum's now in a wheelchair, while Sam is a little older and has been so helpful and grown-up."And the support we have had from the hospitals, friends, family, colleagues, schools and pre-schools has been amazing."The intensive care team in Exeter were brilliant and Katie has made life-long friends there. And at the Capener orthopaedic ward in Barnstaple, physios have been excellent."Mark, who runs S&B Automotive with his wife at Chivenor Business Park, said he had found a bungalow in Braunton for the family to move to from their current terrace in the village. He said he was looking forward to the day his part-trained accountant wife can return to work to continue looking after the finances. "Even in hospital, Katie's been making sure I'm doing the books in her absence and has said she's coming back to work as soon as she can," he said."There's no reason why she can't drive again. All along, Katie has been extremely positive about everything and is determined to carry on doing everything that we enjoyed doing as a family before the accident."And while Mark is now looking into a number of mobility issues that will help Katie when she is well enough to return home from hospital, the offer of support from the business community has given the family a huge boost."I'm really touched by the help we are being given," he said."Hopefully, it will help us to buy Katie a wheelchair so we're still able to take regular walks on the beach.

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