The sisters of a woman who survived a serious road traffic collision are running eight consecutive half marathons to raise money for the charities who helped her in the aftermath.
Emily Holmes, 30, from London, and Lottie Bradshaw, 28, from Newcastle, aim to complete the half marathons at the start of September with the final one being the Great North Run, which takes place on 10 September.
They have chosen to run eight half marathons to represent the eight days that their sister Tilly Raper, 20, was in a coma after she was seriously injured in a crash in March last year.
Tilly, from Richmond, was a passenger in her friend’s car and they were travelling on the B6275, near Darlington, when they were involved in a collision with another vehicle.
Firefighters from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service removed the roof of the car to rescue Tilly and her friend who were trapped inside.
Police officers from Durham Constabulary closed the road in both directions and the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) and Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) responded to the scene to treat those injured in the crash.
Tilly had suffered a traumatic brain injury as well as a fractured pelvis, lacerations to her spleen and contusions on her lungs.
She was given blood at the scene and put into a medically induced coma by the critical care team from GNAAS before being transported to James Cook University Hospital by NEAS’ road crew, accompanied by the team from GNAAS.
She remained in a coma for eight days and stayed in hospital for three months before continuing her recovery at home.
She said: “My recovery is going in the right direction, but it’s not been easy at all, especially with my head injury. Looking so physically well and sounding so well is hard because people can’t see what I struggle with day to day, but I’m going in the right direction.”
Tilly has since been reunited with the teams who helped her at the scene of the crash.
She said: “Meeting the team was an amazing opportunity which I was so lucky to experience. At the time it really felt like the closing of a chapter, like the last thing I had to do.”
To show their appreciation for the charities that have helped Tilly, sisters Emily and Lottie have decided to raise money for GNAAS and Headway by running eight half marathons over eight consecutive days, finishing with the Great North Run.
Emily said: “Seeing someone who you love in a coma is horrendous, and not knowing what will happen is even worse. Tilly has had an amazing recovery which is mainly down to her positivity and determination, but we wanted to raise money for two of the charities that supported Tilly the most. It was actually Lottie’s idea that we run eight half marathons to represent the eight days that Tilly spent in a coma.
Lottie added: “You feel pretty helpless when someone you love is injured so dramatically. This is our way of showing our support and love for Tilly, and this amazing journey she has been on. Although it will be a challenge it is nothing compared to what Tilly has gone through over the past 17 months and we are so proud of how far she has come.”
The two sisters, who are both originally from Richmond, have ran half marathons in the past, with Lottie also completing a marathon, but they’ve never ran them consecutively before.
Tilly said: “I think what they are doing is absolutely amazing and so challenging, it’s all for such important causes with both charities being so important to us.
“With Headway, it’s so important to me that these brain injury charities get the recognition they deserve for the work they do to not only create more awareness about brain injuries, but to help those who are recovering from their own brain injuries.
“Brain injuries are so common yet so unrecognised in day-to-day life, many people who struggle with brain injuries, you’d never know what they were going through on face value, it can be so isolating and it’s so nice that charities like Headway really validate the things we struggle with.
“And of course, GNAAS is so important and close to home for me as I was treated by the air ambulance on the scene of my accident, and as GNAAS are charity funded it was important to me that we raised money for them.”
Lottie and Emily have set up separate fundraising pages for the charities and hope to raise £1,000 for both of them.
Lottie said: “I want to raise money for Headway because as well as the charity being able to help more with people with brain injuries, I also want to raise awareness for the lifestyle someone like Tilly has to adapt to.
“She has come so far and is doing amazing on her recovery but it has certainly not been easy. As a family we had to learn a lot to be able to support her in this process. I think there is a lot people don’t know about what it is like to live with a brain injury and we should do more to make people like Tilly’s lives easier.”
Emily said: “For me GNAAS is the charity that had such a huge role in saving Tilly’s life and without the air ambulance I am not sure that Tilly would have received the specialist care at such a quick speed, I will be forever grateful. GNAAS are fully charity funded so raising money for them is so important to enable them to continue providing their amazing response.”
To sponsor the sisters visit: https://greatnorthrun2023.enthuse.com/pf/lottie-bradshaw and https://greatnorthrun2023.enthuse.com/pf/emily-holmes