Woman who suffered brain injury in freak fall to take on cycle challenge

Karen Brooke and Gill Greaves from Streetbikes in training for the Pedal For Pounds bike rid
Karen Brooke and Gill Greaves from Streetbikes in training for the Pedal For Pounds bike rid

An Elland woman who suffered serious brain injuries after a freak fall is defying the odds to take part in a marathon charity cycling event to raise money for the air ambulance service that saved her life.

Karen Brooke was a keen cyclist before the devastating accident two years ago when she slipped on ice outside her home.

The former Youth Team leader was leading her horse who, startled at her fall, kicked out hitting Karen on the side of her head causing life-changing injuries.

But the life-long Huddersfield Town supporter has signed up to take part in the eighth annual Pedal For Pounds - a 260-mile charity bike ride on the ‘Wagner Way’ from Dortmund, Germany, to Huddersfield, which is being sponsored by Made by Cooper.

Karen, who can currently only walk short distances with a stick, is hoping to complete between 20 and 30 miles of the route each day on a tandem provided by the Streetbikes community cycling project who are also providing co-riders for her throughout the journey.

She is training hard for what will be a huge challenge – going on her home static bike very day, training with StreetBikes every week at Spenborough Running Track as well as regular physiotherapy and swimming sessions.

“Before the accident, I did a couple of the previous Pedal For Pound events and my brother did it last year,” said Karen. “I wanted to take part to raise money for the Air Ambulance and to give myself a challenge. It is very hard but I will do it.”

Following her accident, Karen was airlifted in minutes by Yorkshire Air Ambulance to specialists at Leeds General Infirmary.

The 51-year-old suffered two skull fractures and severe bruising and bleeding on the brain.

“I was lucky to survive,” said Karen. “I had only a slight pulse when Yorkshire Air Ambulance landed and I don’t think I would have made it without them. They saved my life.”

Karen was in a coma for two months and initially suffered personality changes as well as paralysis down her right side.

She was transferred to Dewsbury Hospital where she spent a further four months in rehabilitation learning how to walk, talk, read and write again.

Karen was discharged to her specially adapted home next door to parents Kath and David. “When I came home I had carers four times a day, getting me up, cooking and putting me to bed.

“But I am very determined and, with lots of support from my family I have made myself get better so I can do things myself.”

Pedal For Pounds is part of the ‘Keep It Up’ Campaign between Huddersfield Town Football Club and Yorkshire Air Ambulance which has generated more than £1.4m since its launch in 2009, with monies raised split equally between HTAFC’s Academy and the rapid response emergency service charity.

Although the main Pedal for Pounds 8 ‘Wagner Way’ bike ride, between May 2-6, has sold out, supporters and cycling fans are being invited to join the last leg of the route from Hull back to Huddersfield.

The 80-mile ‘Hull to Home’ ride will see entrants meeting up with the P4P8 riders making their way back to Huddersfield on Saturday May 6. Anyone interested in participating can find out more information and access the application form through HTAFC’s website www.htafc.com

Yorkshire Air Ambulance serves 5million people across Yorkshire and carries out over 1,250 missions every year. It needs to raise £12,000 every day and has just replaced its two, ageing aircraft with brand new, state-of-the-art Airbus H145 helicopters.

Katie Collinson, Partnerships Manager from Yorkshire Air Ambulance said: “We are really looking forward to having Karen back on the Pedal for Pounds bike ride this year. Karen has been through so much over the last few years and she’s a real inspiration to us all with her grit and determination to not only learn to walk and talk again, but now to join in this epic bike ride!”

If you would like to support Karen go to her JustGiving page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/P4P8kARENSCHALLENGE