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Natalie 'moves mountains' to win national award

Thu 07 Dec 2017

A Coventry woman who completed her Diamond Duke of Edinburgh Award after sustaining a severe traumatic brain injury has won a national award.

Natalie Parr, 42, was awarded the Alex Richardson Achiever of the Year Award sponsored by Slater and Gordon Lawyers at the Headway Annual Awards.

The glittering ceremony was held at London’s Dorchester Hotel on Friday 8 December.

The national awards programme, run by UK-wide charity Headway – the brain injury association, celebrates the outstanding achievements and contributions of people with brain injuries and those working to support them.

Natalie was presented with her award by double Olympic gold medallist James Cracknell, who is Vice President of the charity.

Natalie sustained her brain injury in 2002 after contracting Guillain-Barré Syndrome– a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system and starves the brain of oxygen.

At the age of 25, she went from working, walking, having adventures, driving and eating to being paralysed from the chest down, unable to return to work, confined to a motorised wheelchair and tube fed.

Life changed dramatically for Natalie and her family, and she had to make many adjustments to her lifestyle. But her zest and motivation for enjoying life have never diminished.

This year Natalie undertook her Duke of Edinburgh Diamond Award. Natalie decided the theme for her diamond challenge was to ‘Aim High’ - to challenge herself to see where she could go in her wheelchair.

She spent the year going up as many high places as possible, including Blackpool Tower, the Shard, London Eye, the Orbit, O2, Tower Bridge, Spinnaker Tower and Mount Snowden.

Natalie first attended Headway Coventry & Warwickshire in 2012 as a member of the support group. When the charity faced funding issues, it was Natalie's idea to create Christmas cards to raise money, a process that has now become an annual Headway tradition.

Natalie is always creating activities to help her fellow members, such as introducing cooking lessons. Although she cannot taste or smell the food herself, she enjoys watching the others members, smelling the food cooking and listening to the members describe the tastes and textures.

Peter McCabe, Chief Executive of Headway, said: "Natalie has shown remarkable determination to achieve incredible things.

"Her unwavering support of Headway Coventry and Warwickshire and the people who attend shows just how kind and selfless she is.

"She should be extremely proud of herself and all of her achievements."



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Headway - the brain injury association is registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales (Charity no. 1025852) and the Office of the Scottish Regulator (Charity no. SC 039992). Headway is a company limited by guarantee, registered in England no. 2346893.

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