I nearly lost my leg, home, life...

Gill Neve in recovery with daughter Leonie Newman following an accident with a van
Gill Neve in recovery with daughter Leonie Newman following an accident with a van

A Fleetwood grandmother who came close to losing her leg - and even her life - in a horrific accident in the town centre in March has astounded medics by returning to work.

Gill Neve, 66, of Mount Street, collided with a white van on March 18 and ended up trapped under the heavy vehicle for two hours while paramedics and firefighters battled to help her.

Mrs Neve was so badly injured doctors feared an amputation on the damaged left leg was a serious option, and she was later told her actual life had been in the balance while she was trapped under the van on Lord Street.

Doctors advised it would take between a year and two years before she could even think about returning to her post as a mental health support worker.

But the keen yoga and fitness enthusiast says a combination of sheer determination and an incredible wealth of support from care professionals and people in Fleetwood kept her going - and now she is back at work after just six months.

Her recovery is still not complete - she still needs to attend rehab, undergo regular deep skin massage and another skin graft, but her return to work this month was still a major step forward.

Mrs Neve said this week: “Returning to work was a big deal and everyone has been amazed by it, but it has been a long slog. I have so many people to thank for helping me get this far.

“I only went out for a packet of soup at Asda but it changed my life.”

The accident occurred during a normal, everyday lunchtime in March.

Mrs Neve, a mental health support worker for Creative Support, was returning with the packet of fresh tomato and vine soup and was just crossing Lord Street when she felt a rush of wind as the van, which had been waiting on the junction with Mount Street, came towards her.

“Next thing it was on top of me.

“What I hadn’t realised until later was that I lost so much blood and my temperature was so low, I was in danger of dying from hypothermia. That’s why the paramedics realised they had to get me out from the under the van and into the air ambulance. It became touch and go.”

She is now able to laugh at some of the things that happened, including the horrific sight of blood on her coat which worried the ambulance team; they feared vital organs had been damaged but it turned out to be the tomato soup!

Worried acquaintances and other residents in Fleetwood shocked by the accident were relieved when medical experts worked wonders and saved her leg at Royal Preston Hospital.

But in the months since, behind the scenes, there has been a titanic struggle to not only recover her health, but to fight against losing her home and escape crippling debt.

She explained: “One of the hardest things was when they took the splint off in June and I couldn’t move the leg. It was stuck, stretched out and I couldn’t do anything with it. The enormity of it dawned on me. They weren’t optimistic I would be able to get back to work for a year and they were dark days.

“The trouble was that on the day I got knocked over, I had just had an interview for a full time job at work.

“But the job I had at the time was just relief work, so I wasn’t entitled to full sick pay.

“Because I couldn’t work, my income dropped drastically, and suddenly I had the banks on my back. The most worrying thing was the mortgage. I thought I’d lose the house.”

Her incredible progress is down to the amazing support she has received on many different fronts.

She says a long list of people have kept her going. They include doctors at Preston, the scar tissue nurses, the physiotherapy team, the rehab team, her gym instructors, the Citizens Asvice Bureau, fund-raisers in Fleetwood and her daughter, Leonie and Sarah.

She said: “There are too many people to thank but without them all I would not be where I am now, including my my daughter Leo, who has been my rock,”