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Woman with brain injury hikes entire country after being told she would never walk again

PUBLISHED: 10:05 09 October 2019 | UPDATED: 10:46 09 October 2019

Ian Brown and Zara Dyer, just walked over 1,000 miles from John o'Groats to Lands End to raise funds for the 3millionsteps. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Ian Brown and Zara Dyer, just walked over 1,000 miles from John o'Groats to Lands End to raise funds for the 3millionsteps. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Archant

A woman who suffered a life-changing accident which left her unable to talk or move has just walked from Land's End to John O'Groats.

Zara Dyer, just walked over 1,000 miles from John o'Groats to Lands End to raise funds for the 3millionsteps. Picture: Victoria PertusaZara Dyer, just walked over 1,000 miles from John o'Groats to Lands End to raise funds for the 3millionsteps. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Zara Dyer, from Loddon, was working as a scuba diving instructor in the Caribbean when she had a stroke while driving - resulting in a serious collision that left her with six bleeds on the brain, a broken neck, and complete paralysis on the right hand side of her body.

"It was like being an infant in an adult's body. I lost all muscle memory and couldn't even swallow," she said.

After having her life saved at a hospital in Miami, Miss Dyer began a treatment and rehabilitation programme which saw her learn to walk and talk again.

With the support of her partner, Ian Brown, Miss Dyer made a tremendous recovery.

Ian Brown and Zara Dyer, just walked over 1,000 miles from John o'Groats to Lands End to raise funds for the 3millionsteps. Picture: Victoria PertusaIan Brown and Zara Dyer, just walked over 1,000 miles from John o'Groats to Lands End to raise funds for the 3millionsteps. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

She said: "Recovery is not trying to go back to how you were, it's about accepting what has happened.

"Whatever you are recovering from, any progression going forward from that is recovery, that's what you're aiming for.

"So don't set yourself up for failure, and realise how far you have come."

As she recovered, Zara and Ian focused on the ambitious goal of walking the 1,065 mile route from Land's End to John O'Groats, which they have just completed.

Mr Brown said: "When Zara was first able to walk again it took her 50 minutes to walk a mile, and now it takes half the time. It's just by taking one step after taking other steps."

For the couple, training and recovery go hand in hand.

"Training has been a part of Zara's recovery. Starting off with those first few steps and carrying on. It literally is that: taking one step, and then another, and then all of a sudden you have walked a mile," Mr Brown said.

It took 140 days, or 20 weeks, for the couple to walk from the tip of Scotland to the bottom of England.

Miss Dyer said: "It definitely wasn't boring and every day was completely different. We walked at least six hours a day."

Mr Brown said he was thankful for all the support he had received, and to the strangers who joined the couple for parts of the walk.

He added it shouldn't have taken quite as long, but "Zara kept following sheep, adding 20 or 30 miles here and there".

Miss Dyer said: "I just wanted to touch the final sign post, I was just like 'don't stop me'. Fortunately it was raining hard so you couldn't see us crying."

The walk raised more than £12,500 to fund essential rehabilitation equipment for others who suffer brain injuries.

Donations can still be made to the couple on their charity website: 3millionsteps.org.

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