Caroline Wareing and her Wacky Racers complete a remarkable charity marathon
PUBLISHED: 00:00 07 November 2013
A remarkable young mum's terrible riding injury couldn't stop her and five pals using pedal power to raise money for charity
Caroline Wareing’s children had every reason to be terrified by the sight and sound of helicopters. Little James and Sophie had watched in shock as their mum was whisked away by one after a terrible fall from her horse.
The young lawyer from the Fylde village of Thistleton was in the ring at Staffordshire County Show when her normally-calm mount, Whalton Pearly Queen, appeared to take fright, reared, slipped and fell backwards onto her rider.
‘I didn’t have a mark on me,’ recalls Caroline. ‘Not a scratch. But my spinal cord was severed. I knew that straight away.’
Caroline was a prominent member of the riding circuit and had high levels of fitness. ‘Thankfully, the spinal unit at Southport took me in very quickly, but they told me I would be in there for a year.
‘I made a bet with one of the doctors that I would be out within 12 weeks. I actually left after nine weeks and three days. I realised I wasn’t going to get better so I quickly learned all the basics I needed to live life and came home.’
Caroline and her husband Chris – he’s a director of the Wareing Steel company – were able to move into an especially adapted house. ‘I’ve been absolutely fine,’ she says. ‘I’ve had a few down days but I’m not one for self-pity.
‘A neighbour told me you can be sad for six weeks and then you’ve used up your sympathy. I think that’s right.’
Caroline didn’t just get on with life – in many respects her life has been enriched. She became highly skilled at wheelchair tennis player but her upper-body strength has been such that she has been marked down for success as a rower. She’s too modest to talk about it but many think she’ll end up representing GB.
Now, she and a group of nearby friends - Jennifer Anderson, Katie Longworth, Karl Crompton, his brother Shaun Crompton and Jason Gorner – have been inspired to turn what happened to Caroline into a positive.
Calling themselves the Wacky Racers, they have just completed a 300-mile cycle ride from the Tower of London to Blackpool Tower. With back-up from friends and family, her five team mates travelled on road bikes, while Caroline used a handbike. They completed the five day ride just about bang on schedule, stopping on en route to Blackpool at Kirkham Grammar junior school, where several team members have children. ‘The children’s support has been brilliant – they’ve helped with fundraising, got involved in projects and there was even a celebration cake,’ says Caroline.
‘The ride was terrific fun although there were complaints of sore bottoms at the finish line, mainly from the boys. The worst part was the hills, of course, plus a detour when we got lost. We set off from Crewe heading from home and some time later found ourselves back at Crewe!
‘It was worth it all for the welcome we got when we arrived back at Blackpool. I’m now off training for the rowing! There is talk of doing a Castle to Castle trip next year in Scotland, but Scotland means hills!’
The Wacky Racers are on course to raise a magnificent £20,000 for the North West Air Ambulance and Spinal Research, which explores ways of curing severe spinal injuries.
One more good thing has come from the trip. The damage done to Caroline is irreparable, but the emotional scars suffered by her children were healed thanks to Captain Neil Airey, the North West Air Ambulance pilot. ‘Neil was brilliant, spending time showing the children around the helicopter,’ says Caroline. The Tower to Tower Challenge has conquered quite a few fears.
You can also make a donation via uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/Towerchallenge. Pictures for this feature were by Kirsty Thompson, Paul Crone and Danielle Gorner (DG Photography: www.daniellegorner.co.uk)