Car-crash teenager out of hospital

By Sarah ChambersA TEENAGER who was left fighting for her life following a car accident has returned home for the first time after spending more than two months in hospital.

By Sarah Chambers

A TEENAGER who was left fighting for her life following a car accident has returned home for the first time after spending more than two months in hospital.

Natasha Arnold, 19, was left in a critical condition after she was involved in a car crash while driving towards Gillingham, on the A146 just outside Beccles.

The teenager - known to family and friends as Tasha - was put on a ventilator to help her breathe following the crash on November 11 and stayed in Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, for about eight weeks before being transferred to the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston.

She is still recovering from the head injuries she suffered and has a long way to go, but was well enough to return home to her parents, Derek and Linda, and brothers Matthew, 16, and Russell, six, at their home in Brick Kiln Avenue, Beccles, for the first time at the weekend.

Tasha will go back to the James Paget Hospital for more physiotherapy this week, but her parents hope that she can return home after that. Mrs Arnold said they planned to get their daughter home for good and take her to physiotherapy.

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"She's got a long way to go. She's not speaking very well and she can't walk without help. She had her first night at home on Friday. It was lovely," she added.

"She's very happy. She's annoyed with what's happened. It's very hard for her to communicate language-wise. She can walk so far with her walking frame - she's got her wheelchair.

"It's like re-learning and every day she surprises us with something she can do, she's improving all the time. We try not to think about what might be and we try to be positive."

Mrs Arnold said Tasha's two brothers had been "brilliant" since the accident and had helped them greatly, and staff at James Paget Hospital had been "marvellous".

Before the accident, Tasha, a former pupil at Sir John Leman High School in Beccles and Lowestoft College, where she studied sport and leisure, worked as a lifeguard and had been very fit.

Mrs Arnold said her daughter was on a waiting list for a place at a centre to get the therapy she needed, and she spoke in support of a campaign for a new centre near Beccles for young brain-injured people.

Enid Thwaites launched an appeal, called The Woodlark Trust, in August last year, inspired by the efforts of her son Andy to battle his way back to life after being told he would never recover from severe brain injuries.

Mrs Thwaites and her daughter Helen were so impressed by the work of the John Grooms' Treetop centre in Colchester in helping his rehabilitation that they wanted to create something similar near Beccles.

"He was lucky enough to find a place in Colchester. There's nowhere residential in this area and that's what we are trying to resolve by having a centre in this area," said Helen Thwaites.

Pc Michael Pearce, of Norfolk Police, said they were very pleased that Tasha continued to make steady progress.

He added another motorist had been interviewed in connection with the crash and a file sent to the Crown Prosecution Service, which would make a final decision on what action, if any, was to be taken."

n Anyone interested in helping The Woodlark Trust should contact 01502 714161.

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