From a broken back to running a marathon
Hospice Angel to swap two wheels for two feet during Brighton Marathon
A charity fundraiser from Herefordshire who broke her back in a horse riding accident is gearing up for her biggest challenge to date.
Jackie Whittall will tackle the Brighton Marathon at the beginning of April, less than two years after crushing a vertebrae after leaping from the horse during an event.
Jackie, who lives near Kington in north Herefordshire, is a member of the Hospice Angels – a motorcycling club which raises much-needed funds for Hereford-based St Michael’s Hospice.
‘I am very nervous about the marathon but I’m also looking forward to it,’ she said.
‘I turn 50 in September this year so I wanted to do something to mark it.’
Jackie’s accident happened on the Whitsun Bank Holiday weekend in May 2015.
‘I hadn’t even got out of the yard when things got a bit hairy,’ she said.
‘I jumped off the horse, landing on my back with both my heels hitting the floor, but I got up and walked away.
‘I was in agony but thought the pain would wear off. After about a week I was still in pain, so went to my doctor who told me I had crushed a vertebrae in my back.’
Part of her recovery included ride outs on her current bike – a Ducati Monster 696 – which she bought in 2015, as well as settling into a pilates exercise programme with Emma Towersey, which helped build up her core muscles.
Just six months after the accident she took part in the 5K Hospice Santa Run.
Then, last September, she completed a half marathon by entering the Great North Run.
She also took part in the Wheelie Big Cycle last July – an annual cycling fundraiser for St Michael’s Hospice, and hopes to complete the first ever Velo Birmingham cycle event this September.
Jackie, who says she is not too concerned by the time she runs the marathon in, is taking part in the Brighton event with a friend who will be raising money for Cancer Research.
Jackie starting riding motorbikes aged 21, and did so for 12 years until meeting her husband, Phil.
‘He’s not into biking so I sold my first bike and got two leather settees, which I’ve still got,’ she says.
But despite not owning one for about 15 years, her love of biking didn’t diminish.
‘You would see people out riding and just get that feeling inside you.’
Jackie joined the Hospice Angels through Leominster Vintage Bike Club. ‘I picked up a form and sent it in, then Mike Pullin (the Angels’ founder) rang me to say I was in.’
She has since completed fundraising at supermarkets, made cakes for ride outs, and marshalled at Hospice events.
She says she would like to raise about £600 in fundraising for the marathon.
To donate, visit http://bit.ly/2lq7ZXD
The Brighton Marathon takes place on Sunday, 9th April.