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Brave Clodagh beats locked-in syndrome to return to PSNI job

By Ali Gordon

Published 11/10/2016

Back at her desk: Clodagh Dunlop
Back at her desk: Clodagh Dunlop

Stroke survivor Clodagh Dunlop yesterday returned to her job as a PSNI officer.

The brave 37-year-old spent months trapped in her body unable to move or speak, communicating only by blinking, after a devastating brain stem stroke in April 2015.

Speaking after her first day back at work, the Belfast Telegraph's Woman of the Year said her new role in the PSNI's District Support Team in Foyle and Strabane is a dream come true.

"I dreamt of being able to drive and get back to work and so many people thought it wouldn't be possible, but I'm so happy both have been possible," said Clodagh, from Magherafelt.

"I'm on a phased return to work, so I'm doing three days for three hours a week this week and then I'll build back up to working full-time. It gives you a bit of time to get all your personal administration done and get yourself organised for the job.

"I will be involved with a lot of drugs searches so I'll be building case files and doing research for that. It will involve a lot more desk work than I'm used to, but I'm just glad to be back."

She added: "I know it won't be easy, but I want to get back to a normal life. Like a lot of other people, I would have worked long hours and done loads of overtime and I moaned all the time about how I needed a day off.

"But when I was in hospital and the nurses were working really long hours and needing days off, I kept thinking how lucky they were. I would have done anything to be able to work again."

Since suffering a stroke aged 35, Clodagh has shared her journey on her #BeatingLockedIn Facebook page.

"The first Facebook post I ever put up said '#BeatingLockedIn with the date which was May 11, 2015," Clodagh said. "I couldn't do anything but move my head and eyelids at that stage and I now look back at that and am really pleased at how far I've come."

PSNI Foyle shared a photo of Clodagh at her desk yesterday and expressed their delight at having their colleague back, calling her "a true inspiration".

And Clodagh couldn't be happier to be back.

"These last 18 months have made me realise how many people don't have their health so I'm very grateful to be able to work."

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