Stella steps over the Great North Run finish line
8 September 2014
Stella Charlton fulfilled her dream yesterday by stepping over the Great North Run finish line, despite being told she would never walk again.
Stella lives in Newcastle at Bradbury Wing. She was supported by service manager Eni Plenderleith and her partner Kelly, who pushed Stella around the 13.1-mile course in her wheelchair.
Stella acquired her brain injury last year and after leaving hospital she was moved to a care home that wasn’t suited to her needs. This left Stella feeling isolated. She moved to Bradbury Wing and credits the team there with turning her life around.
Eni says: ‘When Stella first came to us she couldn’t communicate with anyone and was dependent on others. This left her feeling miserable and lonely. We have worked tirelessly alongside Stella to encourage her and help build her confidence. Now she can say a few words and hold a biscuit and has started to make decisions about what she wants to do and about her care. These small changes have made a huge difference to Stella. When she breaks into a huge smile, we know she is happy and it melts our hearts.
‘When I asked Stella last year if she wanted to take part in the Great North Run she beamed - I knew then we had to do it and there was no turning back.’
Stella's parents and her daughter Niamh were there to cheer her on. Stella's mother Sylvia told us before the race how proud she would be to see her daughter walk over the finish line. ‘The care and support that Stella has received from Eni and the staff at Bradbury Wing is second to none — I can’t praise them enough. Stella has progressed so much and is very happy. We are absolutely delighted.’
Eni told us, ‘The day was absolutely brilliant and Stella, Kelly and I enjoyed every single moment. As we went round, people were cheering and willing us to get to the end — some even recognised Stella and were shouting "That’s the lady from the newspaper!" which was unbelievable.
‘As we got to the end, Stella got out her chair and we supported her to step over the finish line. She was enjoying it so much she carried on walking and didn’t want to stop. We were also greeted by camera flashes and journalists wanting interviews. Stella even appeared on the big screens, which made her and us very happy.
‘Seeing her mum, dad and daughter at the end of the event was a special moment for Stella. They were incredibly proud of her and what she had achieved.’
‘We’d like to thank everyone in Newcastle and South Shields for all their support — it was an amazing experience with memories we will treasure forever.’
Joining Stella on the start line was fellow Bradbury Wing resident Karen Richardson. She was pushed around the course by Eni’s nephew Karl Barkley. It was the fourth time that volunteer Karl has supported someone from Bradbury Wing to get round the famous half marathon.
Thank to everyone who supported Stella and the team on the day. You can still sponsor Stella and the Bradbury Wing team on their JustGiving page.