A HIKER has climbed back to health and is now looking to inspire others after suffering a near-fatal fall down a cliff which left her with a broken neck and back injuries.
Gilly Mara was enjoying the holiday of a lifetime walking across mountains in New Mexico in the USA in 2002. but when storms hit she fell 60 metres, trapping her between rocks for several hours.
The then 20-year-old was eventually rescued after a helicopter search, and taken to hospital where doctors discovered she had dislocated her spinal cord and broken her neck – an injury which often leaves people unable to walk ever again.
But Gilly, now 32 and living with dog Poppy in Harbury, is nothing if not a fighter.
She told The Observer: “Fortunately the surgery was a success and I escaped paralysis. However, this proved the start of an incredible emotional journey that would take me through the most incredible lows and require every ounce of grit, determination and focus to inch me closer to the highs I feared were now forever outside my reach.”
Doctors told her it would be three months before she could return home – but after just 12 days she was on a plane back to the UK.
And her determination to recover has even seen her win medals in canoeing and dragon boat racing for Great Britain – a dream she has had since she was a child.
The engineer at Jaguar Land Rover has now penned a book called ‘Climbing Back’, documenting her experience.
She told the Observer: “I began writing the book a few months after I fell as a form of self therapy to try and make some sense of what had happened.
“As I continued writing and telling my story I found that my motivation for writing changed. With time I realised that my experience could help inspire others to realise that they too can achieve their dreams.
“I now live my life with the mantra that if you reach for the stars you can get to the moon.
“In writing Climbing Back I really hope that my tale might also help others change their perspective on their own lives and aim higher – whatever their story.”
The book is available both in print and as an e-book from Amazon.
Visit www.gillymara.co.uk to find out more.