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Phoebs Lyle: 'I still forgive the man who knocked me down'

Twenty years ago today, Phoebs Lyle was paralysed by a hit-and-run driver in Spain. Here, she talks about her plan to return there to make a documentary about her life


Positive: Phoebs Lyle at home on the 18th anniversary of her accident in Bangor on April 9, 2019

Positive: Phoebs Lyle at home on the 18th anniversary of her accident in Bangor on April 9, 2019

Positive: Phoebs Lyle at home on the 18th anniversary of her accident in Bangor on April 9, 2019

I was three years old when I was knocked down while on holiday with family and friends in Spain during Easter weekend in 2001 and ended up paralysed from the neck down. Today, April 9, 2021, marks the 20th anniversary of the accident.

I had hoped that I would be able to mark this anniversary with a return to Spain to meet and thank the doctors from the hospitals in Leon and Oviedo who saved my life, but Covid has put paid to that, although I hope to do so next year.

I wrote in 2019 how I forgave the man who knocked me down and who never came forward and that is still the case.

However, I want to give thanks to all the people who saved my life, have kept me alive all these years and who have allowed me to live life to the full, including the late Chelo, the head nurse in the PICU in the local hospital, who did CPR on me in Spain until the ambulance got to me and who sadly passed away last year.

I only have memories of "snapshots" before the accident, mainly involving dogs and my nursery in Bangor. I do, however, remember nearly everything from after the accident.

My earliest memory is waking up in hospital, seeing two doctors stare down at me and me asking when I could get up again, only to be told that I couldn't walk again.

I don't know when or where this conversation took place, but no matter where I was at the time, I just want to say thank you to all the doctors and nurses in the paediatric intensive care unit at Sick Chicks, who saved my life, as well as my doctors in Spain.

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Thanks to their help, I became the first fully tracheostomy and ventilator-dependent child to get home in 2002.

Over the years, I have had a wonderful team of carers, who have helped my parents care for me in my home and to live my life to the full.

Some have become valued family friends and have been with us during the sad times as well as the good.

One constant, however, has been Julie Kirkpatrick from the Ulster Hospital Trust, who has helped to oversee my care package from the start.

I started attending mainstream school when I was about seven and attended Ballymagee Primary School, then St Columbanus' College, where I got six GCSEs and three A-levels, before going to the Belfast Metropolitan College, where I studied for an HND in Broadcast Journalism and graduated in November 2019 with merit.

So, how am I going to celebrate surviving my accident this year? Well, since we're still in lockdown, I will be celebrating with family and a few friends, socially distanced and within guidelines in the garden, but I'm planning on also making a video to mark it which will come out on my 'Phoebs Does Technology Reviews' YouTube channel (the YouTube channel for my Technology Reviews blog).

I would normally invite all the key people who have helped out with my care over the years down for a party, but as much as I'd like to, I'd still like to get into political journalism some day and I don't think breaking guidelines is a good way to introduce myself, but thanks to everyone who's helped out and continues to put up with me today!

Next year, I will hope to bring a documentary out about me returning to Spain and visiting the area where I was knocked down that day, but probably with a hope that it will air late next year.

Who knows what guidelines will be like by that stage.

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