A Wigan woman who was caught up in the horrific New Year’s Eve stabbings in Manchester says she was “very fortunate” to get away from the incident safely.
Sarah Vidler, from Shevington, was waiting on the tram platform at Victoria station, when a man pulled out a knife and began attacking members of the public.
Three people, including a British Transport Police officer, were badly injured in the attack. The lone suspect was arrested and has since been detained under the Mental Health Act.
“I was waiting with my friend, about halfway up the platform,” Sarah said.
“We heard a load of noise, it sounded like a fight or hooligans, we weren’t really sure. But we looked around and there were people running towards us, shouting ‘run, get out, he’s got a knife.’
“We were so shocked and didn’t really know what to do, but judging by their reactions, we knew this was serious.”
But Sarah, who uses an electric wheelchair due to a congenital condition, then faced another challenge in her attempts to get to safety.
The 30-year-old said: “My wheelchair was running out of battery by the time we arrived back at the tram platform, and was crawling along at a snail’s pace.
“When the attack took place, I had no choice but to abandon it and run, as best as I could, with the other people on the platform to safety.”
She added: “Luckily, I am able to walk a little bit, I just held onto my friend’s arm and ran. We saw them (police) pinning him down. We were so close to it, you just think ‘what if?’
“I was very fortunate to get out of there, it could have been a very different situation.”
It was, thankfully, the rarest of close calls for Sarah, but one which highlighted the potential dangers of not having a working wheelchair.
It was with this in mind that she has started an online crowdfunder to replace her now 10-year-old wheelchair, which is prone to frequent faults which cost hundreds of pounds to repair, and is such an old model that the manufacturers don’t make new parts anymore.
“This (the attack) along with having to take time off from work recently just highlighted the urgency to me of needing to get a new wheelchair. My old one is not reliable or safe, I am concerned about travelling alone as the battery frequently runs out, meaning it has to be pushed,” Sarah said.
She suffers from Congenital Myasthenia Gravis, a condition which means nerves and muscles in the body don’t communicate properly.
“The muscles all over my body are weaker than the average persons, I get out of breath quickly and tire quickly,” she explained.
Because she is able to propel herself over short distances in a manual wheelchair, she does not qualify for help from the NHS.
But she already looks well on course to get her new wheelchair, thanks to the generosity of Wiganers. Less than 24 hours after setting her £2,500 target, the Go Fund Me page had surpassed £1,000 in donations from well-wishers.
Sarah said: “It’s so lovely to think that people are there when you need help.”
You can donate to the fund-raiser at gofundme.com/sarah039s-wheelchair-fundraiser