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From car crash survivor to NHS hero: Bethany Lee’s incredible story of giving back

Bethany Lee's remarkable journey from a tragic car accident to recovery and a newfound career in the NHS is an inspiring tale of resilience and gratitude.

Bethany Lee broke both her femurs and had extensive internal injuries when the car she was in was hit from behind by a van.

Bethany’s dad died in the crash, while she endured months of hospital treatment and surgeries – even spending Christmas and her 21st birthday in hospital.

Paying back our amazing NHS

But the amazing staff at Manchester Royal Infirmary, who helped Bethany recover and learn to walk again, have now inspired her to raise funds and also switch careers to work in the NHS.

Manchester Foundation Trust Charity’s Lantern Walk

Bethany will be taking part in Manchester Foundation Trust Charity’s Lantern Walk – a fundraising walk around Heaton Park taking place on Saturday, 11th November.

Manchester Royal Infirmary

Participants can choose to fundraise for any of the 10 hospitals, clinical services, and local care organisations in the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust family – including Manchester Royal Infirmary.

She said: “I am just so grateful to everyone at Manchester Royal Infirmary for the amazing support they gave me. I was an inpatient for three months and was in both the Intensive Care Unit and the Emergency Surgical Trauma Unit.

“I can’t thank the staff enough for how much they helped and supported me. It was little things like regular chats, listening to me when I was down, and taking me off the ward in my wheelchair – it was little stuff but it greatly assisted me in my recovery. The days in and out of theatre were tough but were made better by the staff. The staff always pushed me to do my best.

“I dreaded physiotherapy but they helped me to walk again and I couldn’t be more grateful for that.”

Bethany and her friends and family had been driving back from a local football game when the crash occurred. Her father Peter Lee, well known for his sports photography in the area, died, leaving behind Bethany, her younger sister Jasmine and his partner and mother to his children Lorraine Richardson.

Bethany was the most seriously injured in the crash and spent December 2018 to February 2019 in Manchester Royal Infirmary. At first, she was completely bed-bound and needed staff and her mum to help her with everything.

Bethany, who is now 25, said: “I broke both my femurs and basically everything inside me ruptured – so I had really long surgeries and lots of them. I was always in and out of theatre while they were trying to fix everything.

“I was bed-ridden and couldn’t even sit up on my own – I had to use the bed control to move up and down. I couldn’t do anything for myself. I was 20 years old at the time so that was quite hard.

“I’d never been in hospital in my life, so to then suddenly have three months there with other people doing everything for me was quite a shock.”

When Bethany returned to her family home in Radcliffe her bed was moved downstairs.

Slowly, she progressed from her wheelchair, to crutches, to walking fully independently again, thanks to her physiotherapy team and lots of support from family and friends. Bethany and her family even received a Pride of Bury award for everything they did to rebuild their lives following the crash, where she was reunited with the firefighter who cut her out of the car.

Medical staff were so caring during Bethany’s recovery, it prompted her to switch careers and she now works at Saint Mary’s Hospital – another hospital in the Manchester Foundation Trust Charity group that people can fundraise for.

She said: “I was doing a course at my local college to go into teaching. But I had a change of heart when I was in the crash and I realised I wanted to work for the NHS.

“When I was fully recovered I did a placement at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital working in the Play department. I really enjoyed it but unfortunately shortly after I started, Covid happened, so that cut things short. But it was really nice to see the team and see the people you were helping.

“I quite like my administration work though so I managed to get a job in Saint Mary’s Hospital. I work in the administration team for the community midwives now. I started in July this year and on my first payslip there was an advert about the Lantern Walk.

“I thought it would be nice to give something back to the hospital where I’d been treated.”

Lantern Walk at Heaton Park

Bethany and sister Jasmine will join hundreds of other people at this year’s Lantern Walk at Heaton Park. Participants will choose from a 2.5km or 5km route and receive a lantern to carry round the park. As dusk sets in the park will darken, and the lanterns will be twinkling as walkers cross the finish line and collect their medals.

Manchester Foundation Trust Charity Family

Entry is just £5 and everyone taking part can choose which hospital, clinical service or local care organisation they want to fundraise for in the Manchester Foundation Trust Charity family.

The Charity’s Senior Events Manager Viv Williamson said: “We’re so proud to be bringing Lantern Walk back for the 7th time this year.

“People like Bethany really do show why people get involved in events like this – they’re so grateful to our amazing medical teams who do so much to help people in times of crisis.

“We know times are financially tough for a lot of families now but we think this event is a real bargain – an afternoon of entertainment for just £5, which includes a medal and a lantern as well as entertainment. I’d encourage people to sign up now – we can’t wait to see you there.”

This year’s event is kindly sponsored by bedding company Happy Linen Company. Rhiannon Haggar, Senior Content and Community Coordinator, said: “We’re so pleased to be sponsoring this event again and Bethany’s story really goes to show what an excellent cause we’re supporting.

“Our wonderful NHS hospitals achieve incredible things on a daily basis. We feel honoured to be supporting this work in partnership with Manchester Foundation Trust Charity.”

If you’d like to sponsor Bethany and Jasmine please click here

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Manchester is a successful city, but there are many people that suffer. The I Love MCR Foundation helps raise vital funds to help improve the lives and prospects of people and communities across Greater Manchester – and we can’t do it without your help. So please donate or fundraise what you can because investing in your local community to help it thrive can be a massively rewarding experience. Thank you in advance!

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