Incredible recovery of composer's niece

COMPOSER Andrew Lloyd-Webber's Suffolk niece told how she is learning to talk and walk again as she recovers today from a car crash which left her critically injured.

COMPOSER Andrew Lloyd-Webber's Suffolk niece told how she is learning to talk and walk again as she recovers today from a car crash which left her critically injured.

Iona Barclay, who spent six weeks in a coma after the accident last year, says it is almost as if she fell asleep in 2005 and woke up in 2007.

The 23-year-old, who was brought up near Woodbridge, travelled to France at the beginning of September to take part in the Student Gumball Rally - a 1,500-mile road trip from the UK to Eastern Europe for university students.

She was a passenger in a vehicle which crashed near the Croatian capital Zagreb on September 6, but it was not taking part in the rally at the time.

Miss Barclay broke her jaw, cheekbone and badly damaged her hip, but it was a severe brain stem injury that left her fighting for her life in hospital.

She finally awoke from a coma in November last year thanks to round-the-clock medical care and the devotion of her family, who kept a bedside vigil.

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Speaking for the first time since the crash, Iona said: “Apparently when I woke up I told the doctor I was 19.

“It felt really odd. I remember I went to get up to do things but I couldn't. I wasn't really scared because I knew I was safe.

“I just remember feeling very, very frustrated. I thought: 'I've only been asleep. If I wake up in the morning normally I can do everything'. It's very weird not to remember anything.”

Miss Barclay's grandmother, Gillian Gurdon, of Burgh, near Woodbridge, said: “It was touch and go for about a week. Then her mother, Miranda, was told that actually she would probably live.

“It was terrible leaving her at night. It was so hard for everyone.”

Miss Barclay, whose aunt is Lady Madeleine Lloyd-Webber, wife of the multi-millionaire composer, was transferred to Addenbrooke's Hospital in October once she regained consciousness.

“I had to re-learn everything at Addenbrooke's. I couldn't speak or move so they had to teach me everything all over again,” she said.

“They had to teach me to walk and stand up because to start with I couldn't do either.”

Miss Barclay's condition has since improved and she is gradually rebuilding her life.

“I can't remember last year at all. It feels like I went to sleep in 2005 and woke up in 2007.”

Her family wished to thank those involved in her care yesterday, including the Icanho Centre for brain injury patients in Stowmarket and Green Farm at Pettistree, which provides her hydrotherapy.

N Do you know someone recovering from a life-threatening accident who would like to thank those who helped them? If so telephone The Evening Star newsdesk on 01473 324788.

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