Friends set up new support group for disabled people

Tracey Okines at Mulberry House, St Leonards. SUS-150520-133842001
Tracey Okines at Mulberry House, St Leonards. SUS-150520-133842001

A woman whose life was turned upside down when a gymnastics accident left her in a coma has set up a support group for disabled people.

When she was 27 years old, Tracey Okines landed on her head while doing a cartwheel at a gymnastics open day with her six-year-old daughter. Despite doctors believing she wouldn’t survive, she woke up from a coma after four weeks.

Tracey, now 34, said: “When I woke, I couldn’t move, speak or eat. I was told I had a rare condition called locked-in syndrome, where although I can think and feel normally, I was totally paralysed.

“I awoke to a completely different life. Because I was a single mum and physically unable to protect my child, she was placed with a foster family. I loved my work as a part-time model and part time child care assistant, but suddenly I had to give it all up.”

After years of treatment at different facilities across the country, Tracey moved back to Hastings and met Katie Eaglen. Between them, they set up MCDYP – a social group for mentally capable, physically disabled young people.

Tracey said: “Not everyone is lucky to have a confident and accepting friend like Katie. We set up this group so people under 45 years in this situation can meet like-minded people and socialise.”

The group will meet on Sunday, May 31, at Mulberry House, Hollington Park Road, with refreshments and a quiz. Entry is free. Contact for details.