A young Wigan sportswoman battling back from a rare neurological disorder has suffered a devastating setback following a motorway smash.
Jade Almond, from Abram, was travelling home from specialist rehab in Sheffield with her family when another vehicle ploughed into the back of their car on the M60.
Horrendously the incident wiped out months of work following her diagnosis with functional neurological disorder (FND) last year, which left her unable to control her right leg and suffering frequent collapses.
Her devastated family are now looking at further months of agonisingly-slow progress, saying the shunt has put Jade back to square one.
That means they are also relaunching a desperate call for the public to support the plucky teenager, who is a Wigan Athletic Ladies youth teams goalkeeper, fund residential treatment at the Sheffield centre she has been attending since last year with startling results.
Mum Michelle said as soon as the collision, which happened near junction 18 of the M60 at around 4.20pm on February 21, happened she knew she should fear the worst.
She said: “We knew something was wrong straight away. Everyone was upset and Jade was the only quiet one. She kept opening and closing her eyes and when we were talking to her she wasn’t really there.
“When the police arrived Jade couldn’t feel her legs at all. At that point she couldn’t stand or move.
“The traffic had come to a standstill on a bit of a bend. All we remember then was this massive crash and we were sent careering towards the next car. I yanked the handbrake on and stopped about an inch before we hit it.
“I just can’t believe what has happened. We’re just absolutely numb with shock and devastated.
“All her friends who have been with her from day one were just thinking; ‘not again’. You could see it in their faces.”
The collision happened as Michelle had taken Jade’s sister Josie and two friends over the Pennines to pick her up from where she had been having rehab.
Michelle said the only point to relieve the despair of the appalling situation was when, surreally, they found themselves in the back of an ambulance where a TV crew was filming a behind-the-scenes look at the emergency services.
After being seen in Leigh Jade was taken to Salford Royal Hospital and is currently recovering from the crash in Wigan Infirmary.
The 16-year-old was first rushed into hospital last August after she suffered a bang on the head during a Duke of Edinburgh Award project in Hindley.
Her condition deteriorated rapidly as the crippling condition struck and left her facing a week in hospital and more than a fortnight recovering at her Kearns Close home. With the help of public donations she started going to a residential rehab centre in Sheffield and Michelle described how she had got better and then had it all cruelly snatched away from her.
She said: “She had recently run up the stairs and it was the first time she could do that in seven months.
“She’d also been able to dance for the first time and had been for a run with her physio. Her brain had realised her legs need to work together, which was one of the problems with her condition.
“This has been the worst year of her life.”
Despite that Michelle spoke of the former Byrchall High School pupil’s astonishing ability to get on with her recovery. She said: “Jade is really good-spirited. She just wants to get back to Sheffield and get working on it. It’s affected everybody else more than her.”
Jade’s family is looking for financial assistance as the NHS does not offer residential treatment with the long hours of physio and intensive work which will help her recover from her condition.
To donate to the fund visit www.gofundme.com/jades-rehibilitation