STUDENTS who befriended a charity walker paralysed in a freak riding accident are backing her in her latest venture.
Fifteen young people from Trinity Academy, Newcastle, were at the side of Claire Lomas spurring her on as she tackled the Great North Run in a robotic suit.
Now the 37-year-old is planning to take on the Great South Run in Southampton and the students have begun a fundraising campaign to help her raise as much as possible for spinal research.
They are planning a host of fundraisers for her including designing and producing a special tea towel that charts Claire’s journey from her accident to the present day.
A chiropractor and top level event rider, Claire’s life was turned upside down in 2007 when she became paralysed from the chest down in a freak horse riding accident.
Claire fractured her neck, dislocated her back, fractured ribs, punctured a lung and got pneumonia. Luckily the neck fracture didn’t damage her spinal cord but the dislocation to the vertebra T4 left her paralysed from the chest down.
Since then she has married, had a baby and discovered new sports including skiing, hand-cycling and motorcycling.
She has also raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation with a host of challenges including marathons in a robotic suit.
For the first time in history, research scientists have recorded the reconnection of severed long spinal nerve fibres giving hope to Claire and others with spinal injury.
Trinity Academy specialises in helping young people with emotional issues, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or autism spectrum disorder bringing a greater air of calm and control to their learning.
As part of a project looking at inspirational women, students contacted Claire lending their support.
Teacher Jeannette Mulrooney said: “Students wrote a letter of support to her and they were so pleased when she responded. She came in to see us and invited the students to join her on the Great North Run.
“They spent an afternoon cheering her on, giving her water and food. It was pouring with rain and the students were amazing. Claire does so much for charity and she loves her Trinity family. When she received the MBE she sent us an email at 4am telling us she was thinking about us.”
Claire said: “I was having a bad day and at one point I wanted to stop but the kids were incredible and really kept me going. They were brilliant and I can’t thank them enough.”
Reece, 13, said: “It is incredible to think what Claire has achieved and we really enjoy seeing her when she is in the region. It is nice to be appreciated and we are looking forward to our next round of fundraising for the spinal research charity.”