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Brain Injury Girl All Set For Day To Remember At After Dark

Irwin Mitchell Reveals Special Guests For Firework Display


A 14-year-old girl who was left in a coma just over a year ago after a devastating car accident is to play the most important role at this year’s After Dark event as she pushes the button to start the firework display.

Ellie Vardy, from Eckington, was in the passenger seat of a car when it was involved in a high-speed collision in September last year. She suffered a severe brain injury, several broken bones, internal injuries and a broken neck, but has made an incredible recovery, to the relief of her family and friends.

Now, Ellie has been invited by event sponsors Irwin Mitchell solicitors to set off the fireworks at Sheffield’s popular After Dark festival on Bonfire Night, November 5. Serious injury specialists at the firm have been working with Ellie and her family to secure the necessary funds to help pay for her rehabilitation and treatment, which has assisted in her remarkable progress so far.

Kate Petchey, a serious injury specialist at Irwin Mitchell, represents Ellie’s family. She said: “We are delighted that Ellie is going to do the honours at After Dark this year. She has been incredibly brave during the year after her accident, and has really fought to make progress after the horrific injuries she suffered.

“The family has had a really tough year since Ellie was injured but, despite the significant changes to their lives and the effort they have put in to caring for Ellie,  they have still somehow found time to do some fantastic fundraising for Sheffield Children’s Hospital, where Ellie received specialist care after the collision. It’s great that the whole family are able to have a bit of a treat at After Dark after the difficulties they have faced in the past 12 months or so.”

Ellie’s parents, Paul and Nicky, said: “We’re so proud of Ellie for her amazing progress since the accident and we know she is really looking forward to an evening out at After Dark.

“It’s been a hard time for us all and a lot has happened over the past year.  Ellie finished her inpatient rehabilitation at The Children’s Trust specialist facility in Surrey in June, and we’re now happy to have her home again. Her brother, Sam, is especially pleased to have his big sister back home.

“It’s taken a long time but Ellie is now walking again, although she is unsteady on her feet and still uses a wheelchair outdoors. She has also learned to talk again and, even though her speech can sometimes be a bit unclear, we can understand what Ellie is saying, and it is such a relief to be able to communicate with our daughter again. Ellie’s recovery is far from complete but she’s working very hard to keep getting better, and she is a huge inspiration to us all.  We are really looking forward to enjoying Bonfire Night with the whole family back together.”

The other star of the show at this year’s After Dark event is six-year-old Joshua Lindley, who will light the bonfire.

Joshua, of Outwood, Wakefield, was born with quadriplegic cerebral palsy, which means he can only communicate through a special computer. He uses a wheelchair to get around but is able to walk a few steps if he wears splints. He also has epilepsy which makes life very hard for him.

His mum, Joanne Kendall, has been given advice by Irwin Mitchell about getting extra learning resources for Joshua, who is in mainstream education at Ledger Lane junior and infants school but is fully supported in class.

Joanne, who has two other children, Charlie, one, and Nicole, three months, said Joshua’s disability has never stopped him having fun. She said: “He’s a very sociable person and he has an A for attitude. He’s always willing to give anything a go and he’s really excited about going out to After Dark.

“We really enjoy doing anything as a family and Joshua especially loves it when we go out for walks together. Next year he’s hoping to start horse riding and he’s even on the books for a modelling agency and has already had a number of photo shoots. He’s got such a gorgeous smile.”
Suzanne Munroe, a Clinical Negligence expert at Irwin Mitchell, said: “We were eager to invite Joshua along to light the bonfire at After Dark because he’s such a wonderful boy and deserves a treat.

“Joshua and his family have been a fantastic inspiration to us all .They really pull together and work as a family .Joshua is always smiling and has a real zest for life. This is why I think Joshua was chosen as the public face for the new Children’s Unit at Pinderfields Hospital .He appeared on leaflets and on the sides of buses. He loves all the attention so he’s the perfect boy to light the bonfire for us. I am sure he will do it with a big smile.”