Bridgham woman keeps on running

In the space of two years Carol Mellows was diagnosed with breast cancer and a broken neck in a skydiving accident.

However, she now describes herself as a “walking miracle” after battling back to complete a charity run.

Despite her dramatic health record, the 55-year-old raised �500 earlier this year to help beat breast cancer when she took part in a Race for Life event.

The day held particular significance for the mother-of-three, from Bridgham, near Thetford, who at one point feared she would never walk again.

In June 2007 Mrs Mellows was diganosed with breast cancer and received a lumpectomy and radiotherapy cancer treatment. She had said she always wanted to do a skydive and, following the treatment, wanted to give something back to the Big C Centre in Norwich which she said had been “brilliant” after her diagnosis.

A year later, however, as the fundraiser came in to land at Old Buckenham airfield during a 10,000ft tandem skydive, a sudden gust of wind propelled her and her instructor crashing into the ground.

The accident left Mrs Mellows with breaks to her C4 and C5 vertebrae which required two operations to repair with metal plates and pins.

Most Read

She spent 16 days at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and depsite initially being quadriplegic and unable even to feed herself, Mrs Mellows learnt to walk again and has made an almost full recovery, returning to work as a teaching assistant in Thetford just four months later.

A devout Christian, she now describes herself as a “walking miracle” and proved the point when she took part in the Race for Life in aid of Cancer Research in Bury St Edmunds in May this year.

“I’ve never been a runner, but I do like to keep fit, and friends of mine had done Race for Life before,” she said.

“I thought I would have a go because it’s only five kilometres and I could walk it – I even did a bit of running in the last downhill stretch.

“It was my first Race for Life and I felt incredibly moved by the atmosphere on the day. It was amazing to see so many women and girls of all ages, from toddlers to great grandmothers, uniting for one cause.”

During her stay in hospital, Mrs Mellows, who now works at The Bishop Primary School in Thetford, was given the all-clear from the cancer, but said the experience had stayed with her.

She said: “I was devastated when I was diagnosed with cancer but, thanks to research, I’m here today. When I looked around at Race for Life I saw so many others who were celebrating their own survival by taking part.

“Sadly, there were also many women wearing back-signs dedicated to the memory of loved ones lost to the disease. I was determined to raise as much money as possible for Race for Life because I wanted to help everyone touched by cancer.”

Gemma Davies, from East Anglia Race for Life, said it was now important for people to retun their sponsorship money to enable the charity to do all it could to help people like Mrs Mellows.

“We want to say a heart-felt thanks to everyone who took part or supported our participants, as well as the wonderful volunteers who helped make it happen,” she said.

“Now the big day is over, we are asking our supporters to take one last step – by returning the money they have raised so that we can go on funding much-needed research.

“Last year, just under half the women who took part didn’t return any sponsorship money. Without this money, Race for Life can’t fund all the research that’s needed to help save more lives, so whatever the amount, we’re asking everyone to make every effort to return their sponsorship money as soon as possible. It can be paid in online, by phone or by cheque.”

For information on returning sponsorship money, or to make a donation, visit