Ipswich champion heading for awards

A TRUE Ipswich champion could become the Pride of Britain at a national award ceremony.

A TRUE Ipswich champion could become the Pride of Britain at a national award ceremony.

Claire O'Brien-Ellington received a phone call a week ago telling her she had been nominated as a finalist in recognition of her work as joint founding member and secretary of the Ipswich Charioteers wheelchair football club.

Treasurer of the club Bernadette Kavanagh put her friend's name forward for the award but Mrs O'Brien-Ellington won't be able to make the star-studded ceremony in London unless she is stretchered all the way there in a private ambulance.

It's a costly route but she hopes to be there on September 30.

She said: “It would be brilliant to go along, especially to meet all the celebrities.”

The 31-year-old lives in Blackfriars Court with husband Simon, who she feels thoroughly deserves a recent nomination for ITV Carer of the Year.

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She said: “He's given up everything to look after me. He's my full time unpaid carer and he deserves an award more than I do.

“Through the love of my husband and friends, I manage to keep going.”

Mrs O'Brien-Ellington has been a wheelchair user since an accident in 1999 during an armed defence training exercise with the police, but an accident in Ipswich town centre last year left her bed-bound.

She was already suffering from tissue damage, after her leg became trapped in a lift door, when she was nearly hit by a truck last year.

She was in Ipswich market with her dog, Jake, on Christmas Eve, when the accident happened.

She said: “The truck got to a point where its back tyre was actually resting against the dog. All I could think was “That's it, we're gone. But people were screaming and shouting and the driver stopped in time and jumped out. I went into shock when realised what had happened.”

Over the next few days, Mrs O'Brien-Ellington started to experience pain in her back. A visit to her doctor confirmed she had slipped a disc.

She said: “Every time I sat up I was putting pressure on the nerve. I was in that much pain that I had to lie down.”

In November she will receive a nerve blocking injection that she hopes will ease the pain she feels in her back.

Until then she is stuck in bed but still manages to continue her vital work with the Charioteers - an already successful team that are going from strength to strength.

She said: “We all share a love of football and love to play competitively.

“The goal now is to get into the national wheelchair football league and even if I'm unable to play with them, I want to see them get that chance.”