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Maureen named Britain's bravest

PUBLISHED: 17:22 01 December 2001 | UPDATED: 10:58 03 March 2010

A STOWMARKET woman who has battled through her own adversity has been hailed a hero as she conquered crippling disability to help others in distress.

Brave amputee Maureen Reynel, who set up a charity to help families on the breadline despite constant pain following a back operation, has been honoured by a leading women's magazine with a Bravest Woman in Britain Award.

A STOWMARKET woman who has battled through her own adversity has been hailed a hero as she conquered crippling disability to help others in distress.

Brave amputee Maureen Reynel, who set up a charity to help families on the breadline despite constant pain following a back operation, has been honoured by a leading women's magazine with a Bravest Woman in Britain Award.

Nine years ago Maureen, 52, founder of the charity Families in Need (FIND), became disabled overnight after an operation on her back which went wrong. Unable to walk, her leg withered away and doctors were forced to amputate.

But the mother to two adopted boys and a foster mother to over 20 children over the years refused to let personal tragedy overcome her goal of setting up a charity to help needy families on the poverty line.

As she battled against one misfortune, another was to appear. Ms Reynel split up with her husband and she was left to cope with her disability and the children on her own. On top of all this, the operation had left her in constant pain and she needed to have a "pain box" fitted into her stomach which constantly filtered pain-relieving drugs into her body.

It was then she decided to devote herself to others to forget the agony she bears every day. She spends her days and often her nights supplying food, sleeping bags and other supplies to needy people in her area.

Despite her disability, she has also travelled to Russia with medicines and clothing for children in orphanages.

She also persuaded IBM to donate a computer to a hospital in St Petersburg and regularly begs, cajoles and harangues people for donations to the homeless and needy.

"I might be in pain, but others are suffering in worse ways," said Ms Reynel.

Now collecting goods for Christmas hampers for beneficiaries of FIND, this plucky woman continues to view her situation with good humour and awesome courage.

"I can't have a prosthetic leg as the thigh I have left is too twisted and surgery won't stop the pain I suffer," she said. "But I've learnt to laugh at myself. And having one leg helps me win people's support - you could say it gets my foot in the door."


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