Laurie set to come home

STILL smiling. Still strong. Still a hero.Remarkable teenager Laurie Squirrell is today proving that her refusal to be anything but positive has paid off.

STILL smiling. Still strong. Still a hero.

Remarkable teenager Laurie Squirrell is today proving that her refusal to be anything but positive has paid off.

Three months after the 16-year-old was hospitalised after a horrific motocross accident which left her with a "one in a million" chance of walking again, brave Laurie is set to come home.

The promising young sportswoman - who was practising in San Antonio, Texas, for her first professional race when she had a high-speed crash and broke her back - will return home to Hitcham on Wednesday after a long spell in Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Buckinghamshire.

Laurie, a former Stowmarket High School student, vowed to The Evening Star just days after the accident she would be home in time to celebrate her 17th birthday, on Sunday, March 13.

While she laid in hospital, paralysed from the chest down, her chances looked bleak. But Laurie and her determination have won.

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She has had several visits home, including a week-long stay which ended on Wednesday and is now ready to start rebuilding her life in Suffolk with her father Richard, 38, mother Julie, 37, sisters Samantha, 18, and Kizzy, 15, and pet Dalmation Pongo.

Laurie said: "I've been told the date is definite now and I can't wait.

"I'm doing absolutely loads of physio in these last few days but it's so much easier knowing what I have to look forward to.

"When I've come home before it's been great but there's always the thought that I have to go back to hospital in the back of my mind.

"Waking up in my own bed and knowing I can stay will be great.

"One of the first things I want to do is learn to drive and dad has ordered a special car.

"I didn't want to put things like that on hold, just because of the accident."

The Squirrell family home, where their family coach business is based, has been specially adapted while Laurie has been away.

A garage has been turned into a new bedroom and bathroom for Laurie and a lift has been installed.

Laurie is hoping to set up a charity helping other teenagers cope with rehabilitation after an accident.

She said: "I'm feeling really positive about things.

"I've got a lot of thinking to do about my future but it will be easier at home.

"The time in hospital has gone really quickly and it feels like only yesterday I was in America.

"I suppose that's because I've had so much support and have kept busy.

"Now I'm home my family have a chance to get back to reality too."

Do you know someone with a remarkable story? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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THE family of a schoolgirl who was left paralysed when a concrete canopy fell on her at a friend's house are launching a trust fund to raise money for vital equipment.

Zoe Talbot, 11, was sitting on the front porch of a friend's house in September last year when the accident happened.

The Hadleigh Primary School pupil was left paralysed from the waist down and doctors told her she only had a 50:50 chance of walking again, although at Christmas she made a major breakthrough by moving her legs.

Her father Bob is now setting up a trust fund in Zoe's name to help fund special equipment that she will need to recover from the injuries.

This includes an electric exercise bike worth about £700 that helps to build up her muscles, a new stairlift costing about £1,000 and a new £500 wheelchair.

Mr Talbot, of Cottesford Close, Hadleigh, said: "We've had loads and loads of people asking about donating money to help buy what she needs in terms of equipment.

"We are basically setting up a trust fund in her name for people to make donations if they want to.

"We've actually got to take out a mortgage and build an extension so we can accommodate her, which we are funding."

Anyone wanting to donate to Zoe's trust fund can do so by sending a cheque in her name to 8 Cottesford Close, Hadleigh, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP7 5JA, or can contact Mr Talbot on 07810 122716.

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