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Bodmin's Flis Marriott is determined to walk again after breaking her neck in beach accident

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: February 21, 2014

  • Flis Marriott and physiotherapist Melissa King, at The Merlin Centre.

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AN INSPIRATIONAL woman from Bodmin who was told she would be paralysed for the rest of her life says she is determined to walk again.

Flis Marriott was left unable to move both her arms and her legs after she broke her neck while working as a surf instructor six years ago.

"I was running away from a group of twenty schoolchildren on the beach," she explained.

"I fell over and broke my neck. They told me I would never be able to move anything ever again."

Following the accident Miss Marriott underwent an operation in the hope that it would allow her to sit upright.

"I was told I could have a ten-hour operation to be able to sit in a chair or not have it and stay in bed for the rest of my life," she said.

"Of course I chose to have it. Afterwards I started moving my shoulder and arm. It was amazing."

After years of therapies, gruelling daily stretching routines and continuous medical appointments, Miss Marriott is now able to walk short distances with a little bit of assistance.

"My walking isn't anything like what I would call normal," the 36-year-old said.

"I walk with sticks but I can walk around a little bit without them as long as I can hold on to someone's arm."

A former outdoor instructor with a love of water sports and rock climbing, Miss Marriott says she is determined to continue to build up her strength.

"My consultant calls me a pig-headed, determined and obstinate," she joked.

"My mindset has always been yes I broke my neck but I will walk again, I will be back in my kayak and I will go climbing.

"When people say I can't do something, I say watch me."

At the time of her accident Miss Marriott had just returned from travelling and was hoping to become a physiotherapist.

"I got into university but I knew my body would not be strong enough," she said.

Instead she decided to train as an occupational therapist and is now in her second year of university at Marjons in Plymouth.

As part of her treatment she has been visiting the Merlin MS Centre near St Austell for oxygen therapy over the past two years.

"It is very hard work trying to fit everything in," she said.

"The oxygen makes a huge difference – it helps keep me going. It boosts my energy enough so I can keep going to do what I need to do.

"I wouldn't be able to manage without it," she added.

"I wouldn't be able to do the course that I do without the Merlin Centre."

She also puts her studies and personal experience to good use by helping to run a hand therapy class at the centre.

"I hope one day I can specialise in hand therapy," she added.

"They see me do the exercises and they think 'she has got just as many difficulties as I have'.

She added: " It's very rewarding."

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