Costessey woman made MBE for her work with disabled people

Helen Dolphin gets MBE at Buckingham Palace

Helen Dolphin gets MBE at Buckingham Palace - Credit: Archant

At just 22 years old Helen Dolphin lost four of her limbs to meningitis, but determined not to be beaten, she became a champion for disabled rights and has now been made a MBE.

On Thursday, the Costessey woman received her medal for from Prince Charles celebrating her charitable work which has improved the lives of thousands of Blue Badge holders across the UK.

Surrounded by her family at Buckingham Palace, she shared the moment she came face to face with the Prince of Wales.

Mrs Dolphin, said: 'When you walk up to collect your medal you have to stand right in front of them but my legs need to be on an even surface - and the carpet wasn't - so I was wobbling around. It had to happen at that moment. I told Prince Charles I was having carpet issues and he chuckled.'

Now 40, she is the director of policy and campaign at Disabled Motoring UK and is urging car park operators to make their sites more accessible.

She said: 'I don't consider myself to be disabled, as there are so many other people in a far worse situation.

'I believe you have two choices in life, you either do nothing and give up, or you can make something of yourself and I chose the latter.'

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On Christmas day in 1997, she started to experience symptoms of blood poisoning and fell into a coma. When she awoke a few days later at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, she discovered that both of her legs had been amputated above the knee.

She was diagnosed with meningococcal septicaemia meningitis and in the following months lost both of her hands. It took two years to recover from her life-changing surgery, but it was not long until Helen Dolphin dedicated her time to improving the lives of disabled people through driving.

She added: 'Driving was a massive part of my recovery. I think a lot of people realise that when you are back behind the wheel. It is like being back to normality and you don't feel disabled anymore.'

- If you have a news story, email jemma.walker@archant.co.uk