Hit-and-run victim Phoebe Lyle defies odds to graduate
It was a day she never thought she would see - but crash victim Phoebe Lyle from Co Down defied the odds yesterday as she celebrated her graduation.
The brave Bangor girl accepted her HND in Broadcast Journalism at a ceremony in Titanic Belfast after two years of study at the Belfast Metropolitan College.
When she was just three years old, Phoebe was severely injured in a hit-and-run incident while on a family holiday in Spain in April 2001.
Her parents, Jane and Robert, were told she had just a 5% chance of survival.
Phoebe was hurled 40 feet in the air and landed on her head, sustaining severe injuries to her spinal cord.
She spent three weeks in a coma in Spain and was still not fully conscious when transferred to the intensive care unit of the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.
Having been left paralysed from the neck down, Phoebe is on a ventilator and needs 24-hour care at home.
Over the years infections have almost taken Phoebe's life but she has remained a fighter throughout.
She spent most of her education in mainstream, obtaining six GCSEs and three A Levels, before completing her diploma.
Phoebe said yesterday's graduation, alongside her seven classmates, was a brilliant occasion after years of fearing it might never happen.
"It feels absolutely mind-blowing to have graduated after being told at various stages of my life that I might not get to this point," she said.
Phoebe is currently taking a year out to concentrate on her journalism career while also writing her 'Technology Review' blog.
"I'm interested in looking into how accessible everyday technology is for people like myself who can't use it in the same way as everyone else.
"Down the line I would also like to focus on politics," she added.
Her mum Jane is equally full of gratitude for the fact that she was able to look on with joy as her daughter graduated.
"We are beyond thrilled and bursting with pride to have got Phoebe to this stage.
"As far as I'm concerned she's on her own now and can start paying her own bills!"
Jane also paid tribute to both schools - Ballymagee Primary and Columbanus College - for the way in which they embraced and supported Phoebe.
"They both took the risk that they could provide Phoebe with a mainstream education and we are hugely grateful for their support," she added.