Family’s hopes for new chapter for mum paralysed in cycling accident

Maxine Amis, after her accident. Photo: Murray Walker

Maxine Amis, after her accident. Photo: Murray Walker - Credit: Archant

The family of a Norwich mother-of-two who was paralysed from the neck down after a cycling accident say they are hopeful she is at the start of a new chapter as she prepares to come home.

Maxine Amis celebrating her 50th birthday, before the accident. Photo: Murray Walker

Maxine Amis celebrating her 50th birthday, before the accident. Photo: Murray Walker - Credit: Archant

Maxine Amis, 51, was enjoying the summer sunshine during a bike ride in Besthorpe last July when she sustained the life-changing injuries.

The active mother-of-two was cycling through the village, wearing a helmet, when she crashed into the back of a parked van, breaking her neck.

She was rushed to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, where, having not taken identification on the bike ride, staff were unable to track down her family.

Mrs Amis, husband Paul and their two sons, aged 10 and 13, had been living with her mum in Cringleford, as they waited for their new home in Stoke Holy Cross to be built.

The Nuffield Health Fitness and Welleing at Barrack Street. Photo: Sonya Duncan

The Nuffield Health Fitness and Welleing at Barrack Street. Photo: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

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And as the hours passed, the family started to worry.

Her brother Murray Walker, who lives in Norwich, said: 'One of the lads I worked with saw there had been an accident with a cyclist near Wymondham, and it turned out Maxine was involved.

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'She was cycling in Besthorpe and went straight into the back of a parked van, head on.

'She broke the C2 vertebrae in her neck, but she had done it hard enough that the break actually haemorrhaged into her spine.'

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. NNUH

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. NNUH - Credit: Nick Butcher

The break left Mrs Amis paralysed from the neck down, and doctors say she will need to use a breathing ventilator for the rest of her life.

She spent 119 days in the intensive care unit at the hospital, until the end of October last year, when she moved to a specialist spinal unit in Sheffield.

Mr Walker praised the 'fantastic' care she had received, and said teams in Sheffield were working to strengthen her neck, enabling her to use a power wheelchair moved by head movements.

They now hope that Mrs Amis, who turned 51 on Sunday, can return to her new home in May or June this year, once a care package is in place.

She will need two carers with her day and night, and minimum of seven on her team to allow for shifts, sickness and holiday.

They will need to be trained in Sheffield and spend time with Mrs Amis before she can come home.

Mr Walker said his sister had faced an incredibly difficult time adapting to her injuries, but was beginning a new chapter.

'She has gone through the 'I want to die' and 'what's the point' phase,' he said. 'She's gone through the mourning stage, asking why it happened. She's come out the other end. She is mentally extremely strong.'

He said she had faced a frightening experience in the last few weeks, when her blood pressure dropped to extremely low levels and she struggled to breathe.

But nurses stepped into action, and Mr Walker said: 'For that reason she has been able to focus on how much she wants to see her children grow up.

'She wants to see what they do and how they grow and she now clutches onto life very, very dearly.'

Her friends and family have rallied around her, with people travelling to Sheffield every week - to the point where a friend has created a diary to keep track of everyone's visits.

Mr Walker said: 'There are now only about two days a week where she is on her own, and it means they can laugh and talk about old times together.'

For now, they are focusing on fundraising to make her return home as easy and possible, and pay for alterations to the house and equipment to help her day to day.

Mr Walker said: 'Because the van was parked legally, there is no insurance or compensation. She has been awarded the top funding package from the NHS but it only covers so much.

'We are fundraising so she can have a better quality of life.'

• A fundraising page set up has already raised more than £12,000 so far - to donate, click here.

Fundraising for Maxine

The fitness community in Norwich is set to host a day of fundraising in honour of Mrs Amis' passion for health and exercise.

From 12.30pm to 6.15pm on Saturday, March 2, the team at Nuffield Health Fitness and Wellbeing Gym, on Barrack Street, will be hosting various activities.

They will include a raffle, with top prizes including Norwich City football boots and a week-long trip to France, as well a coffee and cake sale and a social evening, with live music, on Saturday night.

There will be some of Maxine's favourite fitness classes taking place throughout the day, including body combat and body attack, which cost £10 each.

And pool-based activities, including aqua zumba, will be taking place, along with half-hour spins on the bikes taking place on the hour every hour, both of which cost £5 to take part.

All money raised will go towards Mrs Amis' care.

For more information, search Fundraising Day for Maxine Amis on Facebook.

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