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UK/Florida -- Penny Roberts follow-up from 1995 -- Press Clips


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Dec 31, 2002, 10:26 AM
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Brave Penny's friends cut in
Dec 31 2002

By Lisa Smith, Evening Mail

A skydiver left paralysed when her chute failed at 14,000ft is off for treatment in the United States thanks to the fundraising efforts of her friends.

Penny Roberts can also thank some pretty influential people for helping to send her for specialist surgery in Miami, including the Sultan of Brunei and Richard Branson.

Penny, aged 39, was left paralysed from the chest down after her skydiving accident in Florida in 1995.

Confined to a wheelchair, the former nurse from Ward End, Birmingham, also faced a gruelling court battle for the right to keep her baby son Peter, now four, after her partner left.

Social workers feared she would not cope with the baby alone but she won through and now cares for Peter with the help of carers at her new home in West Yorkshire.

Her mother Hazel still lives in Ward End and it was a chance conversation with her hairdresser Pat Smith that led to the fundraising bonanza.

Pat said: "As soon as Hazel told me about her daughter, her condition and how she had fought to keep her son I was filled with admiration for this woman I had never met.

"We set up a fundraising committee with friends, neighbours and staff at the shops nearby and organised events from discos to quizzes to sponsored walks.

"We then had a 5,000 donation from the Sultan of Brunei who had heard about the appeal and now Richard Branson has given us a massive deal on Penny's flights to and from the States.

"She will go on January 7 and will be treated by Bernard Brooker who is a specialist and believes he can help her."

Hazel said: "Penny was completing her 300th skydive when both her main and reserve chute failed.

"She knows she will never walk but the generosity of her friends means that she can now get treatment to get some of her muscles working again.

"We are all so grateful to those who have helped raise the money and cannot thank them enough." ..SUPL:

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