Spinal injury teacher climbs Africa’s highest mountain

Nicole Issitt
Nicole Issitt

A primary school teacher who faced near paralysis after a horse riding accident four years ago is climbing the highest mountain in Africa for charity.

Barley Hill teacher Nicole Issitt, 26, set off for Mt Kilimanjaro yesterday to raise funds for the Thame Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance, as it was an air abulance which rescued her back in 2008.

Miss Issitt fractured her spine after her horse ‘spooked’ while she was riding on holiday in Wales with friends.

“When I fell off it just felt like I’d been winded at first,” said the year six teacher.

“I thought they were being really overcautious putting me on a board and taking me away in a helicopter.”

But at the hospital Miss Issitt was told by doctors that because the injury was lower down on her spine, that it could have led to paralysis.

“I was seeing a possible future of being a less able person in a wheelchair,” she added.

“It was incredibly scary for my parents too.”

Miss Issitt was in hospital in Wales for three weeks, during which time doctors were considering carrying out an operation.

But she was eventually told that were she to wear a spinal support brace, she could be moved to John Radcliffe Hospital where Miss Issitt then stayed as an out-patient.

“I was in a lot of pain for quite a while afterwards,” she 
said.

“I had to have physiotherpay for a couple of years and I discovered pilates, which has really helped.

“I’ve been doing pilates every day since the accident.”

But activities such as driving and sitting for long periods of time still irritate her back, she added.

Miss Issitt has however been training for the climb since November, carrying out circuit training and strengthening her back with the aid of a personal trainer.

“I decided to carry out the challenge because after the accident I did some research into the air ambulance.

“After realising they don’t get funding, I felt like I should do something to pay them back.

“Plus, I’ve always wanted to go to Africa.

“I’ve never been a sporty type of person, but the accident changed a lot of things.

“Since recovering, I feel like I can do anything.”

The Aylesbury resident’s trek to the summit of Kilimanjaro will take her around six days.

The climb will take her 19,341 feet above sea level.

To sponsor Miss Issitt and to help raise funds for the Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance, visit www.justgiving.com/Nicole-Issitt