Abseil challenge to boost Finlay Foundation

This Is Wiltshire: John and Sandra Phillips, from Wiltshire Air Ambulance, with Niki Connor, right, at Saturday’s fair. John and Sandra Phillips, from Wiltshire Air Ambulance, with Niki Connor, right, at Saturday’s fair.

Brave Niki Connor, who was crushed under the school bus that killed her six-year-old son Finlay, is planning to abseil 190 feet, even though she still suffers pain from the injuries she received in the tragedy.

The 39-year-old plans to lower herself down the side of the Avon Gorge, close to Brunel’s historic suspension bridge, next spring to mark the second anniversary of her son’s death.

Finlay and his mother were walking towards Woodborough School when they were both hit by the bus as it accelerated away.

Finlay died from his injuries before he could reach hospital and his mother was trapped under the wheels of the bus until firefighters freed her.

She was airlifted to Frenchay Hospital, near Bristol, where her leg bones were pinned and her pelvis wired together.

Nineteen months later, Mrs Connor still receives therapy for the effects of her injuries and the trauma she endured.

She said: “I feel pain constantly in my pelvis and standing and sitting causes most pain.”

Nevertheless, she is still intent on doing the sponsored abseil in aid of the Finlay Foundation, the charity she and her husband Greg set up to keep the name of their son alive.

She said: “I am in touch with a company that organises abseiling and I plan to take a group of women with me, all of them sponsored for the Finlay Foundation, as close to the anniversary we can get.

“I have a good number, about nine already, who want to do this with me and I have said I want this to be women only.”

The Finlay Foundation has already provided high-visibility waistcoats for schools and Scouts and recently paid for furniture and play equipment for the waiting rooms at the children’s wards at Great Western Hospital, Swindon, and Bristol Children’s Hospital.

On Saturday, Mr and Mrs Connor, who now live in Rushall where their younger son Louis goes to school, organised their second craft fair in aid of the foundation.

The fair, at the Bouverie Hall, in Pewsey, attracted hundreds of visitors, including two very familiar faces.

Mrs Connor said: “What was lovely was one of the trauma nurses from Frenchay Hospital who looked after me came along, as did the physiotherapist who would come up to the trauma ward in Frenchay and help me to start moving again.” Teachers from Woodborough School also attended. Mrs Connor said of the fair: “I had a fantastic team of great friends and family that helped me set up and run the event. Haydens Bakery in Devizes once again donated loads of cakes for us to sell. “We raised an amazing £2,011 profit and we will be giving Wiltshire Air Ambulance £1,000 of this.” Details of how to sponsor those taking in next year’s sponsored abseil, through a JustGiving website page, will be announced later.

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