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Stroke survivor Clodagh Dunlop reveals her determination to cast wheelchair aside and stand on her own two feet in 12 months' time

By Victoria O'Hara

Published 16/07/2016

Clodagh Dunlop with her new pet dogs Bonnie and Clyde
Clodagh Dunlop with her new pet dogs Bonnie and Clyde
Clodagh Dunlop with partner Adrian

Inspirational stroke survivor Clodagh Dunlop has spoken of her determination to stand beside the sea without needing a wheelchair by this time next year.

The police officer and Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year has already made a remarkable recovery from locked-in syndrome and has said how grateful she was for the huge support she had received.

In a moving post, Clodagh, who now blogs about her journey of recovery, spoke of the difference in her mobility during the last year.

"On July 14, 2015, Adrian (her partner) did what people thought impossible with locked in syndrome", she said. "I was unable to travel by car so he took me to the sea by train. I had a longing when ill to see the sea. I loved the two-hour train journey and cried when I saw the waves".

She added: "Yesterday I visited the same beach with my cousin and it made me reflect on how far I've come in a year and yet how far I have to go.

"Fingers crossed by July 2017 I will stand at the seafront for a picture and no longer need my wheelchair for those long distances.

"It made me grateful for all the love and support Adrian, my family and everyone has shown me the past year".

Just over a year ago Clodagh (35) was left unable to walk, talk or even roll over in her hospital bed after a devastating stroke left her with locked-in syndrome.

For almost three months, Clodagh, from Magherafelt in Co Londonderry, could only communicate by blinking, although her mind remained completely alert.

However, she astounded everyone by walking out of Musgrave Park Hospital in Belfast in November 2015.

"When I was admitted they asked me what I wanted to achieve and I said my goal was to walk out of here," she said at the time. "This is the next step of what will be a long journey. I can't wait to begin it."

Clodagh praised Adrian, who was by her side throughout her rehabilitation.

She has also spoken of the joy two new dogs - Bonnie and Clyde - have brought to her in her recovery.

"Dogs are known for their therapeutic benefits in helping with many illnesses. These two have made me laugh," she said.

"Just yesterday I could take wobbly steps on my own without a walking aid. I know it will take hard work to be able to walk without one permanently. Small steps, but I am getting there."

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