Georgina Hurst’s life changed forever she was left partially paralysed in a car crash, but pole dancing has helped her. Becky Bond reports
“I literally had a dream that I was watching a pole dancer. In the dream, I told my friends that I wanted to have a go and they all just looked at me as if to say ‘aw bless her.’ Then I got out of my wheelchair and did it,” says Georgina Hurst.
“The dream was so powerful, that when I woke up, I researched some local classes and just got on with it. Honestly, it’s been so liberating.”
In 1998, aged just 25, paramedic George, as she prefers to be known, sufferd catastrophic injuries when she was involved in a high speed head-on collision.
She suffered a broken neck, broken leg, torn liver, kidney and bladder, shattered pelvis and punctures in both lungs. She was resuscitated five times after her heart stopped.
Now she relies heavily on a wheelchair to get around and a team of carers she prefers to call ‘friends’.
“I was in hospital for about 18 months and when I eventually left, I still needed somebody with me 24-7. I couldn’t wash, dress, or even make a drink independently, never mind a meal,” explains George.
“Now, I just need assistance with a bit of cooking and cleaning. Oh, and straightening my hair.”
George grew up in Eldwick where she still lives and went to Bingley Grammar School, but she trained to be a paramedic in Merseyside.
After a few years there, she applied for a job with West Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service to be nearer family, friends and her boyfriend, Tim. It was while she was home on annual leave, hoping for an acceptance letter, that the accident happened.
A group of friends had gone to the pub for a catch up. On the way home they were racing each other and while overtaking, the car George was in hit an on-coming car on the brow of a hill.
She can’t remember saying slow down, but that’s not surprising, everything a week prior and eight weeks after the crash has gone from her memory due to trauma.
The person in the oncoming car suffered a broken leg, ribs and sternum. Tim received some bruising and a three month sentence.
For George the injuries were life changing. She ‘died’ five times while she was in hospital and needed to be resuscitated.
Nearly 20 years on she still suffers from a condition called Critical Care Polyneuropathy and she has endured countless operations, followed by hours of physiotherapy and hydrotherapy.
She also needed to learn to speak again after the crash left her with a partially paralysed palate.
“I sound like I’ve just woken up. But I can’t change it, so I just get on with it,” says this determined Yorkshire woman.
“I know it sounds strange, but the accident has made me a more confident person. Despite the way I talk, I have stood in front of 400 school children and taught them about avoidable accidents.
“I’ve also chatted to what you or I would call ‘bad lads’ - those with problems and they are genuinely some of the kindest people I’ve met. In June, I’m working with Bradford Council to help with road safety awareness.”
Help the Heroes have also benefited from George’s can-do approach to life. She raised £5,000 after completing a 350 mile bike ride through France and the Somme battlefields in 2012. Then in 2014, she raised a further £2,000 cycling through France and Belgium for STUBS, a charity providing practical support for UK armed services personnel who have been severely injured whilst on duty.
‘Proper’ work, as George calls it, is off the agenda for the moment. Dexterity and a disorder called ataxia (more commonly known as the shakes) are the issues.
George will always rely on her wheelchair, but can now walk short distances with crutches and can even drive again. Unfortunately, running is never going to make it onto her to-do list.
Although bathing and showering are manageable on her own, George hates the bath. “I have to open the bath door, get in naked, close the door, and just sit there as it fills up. It’s boring. I then have to do the same in reverse, so I’m freezing by the time all the water has drained out. Showers are definitely quicker and easier.”
Financial compensation has allowed George to live in a modest bungalow in Eldwick, adapted to her needs. In it, she has a small room with some gym equipment, where she is put through her paces by a personal trainer three times a week.
But one piece of kit dominates the room - her pole, in front of which is a bank of mirrors, daubed with the names of some of the moves she’s learning: Boomerang Mermaid, Reverse Sunwheel, Back Hook and Carousel.
“I get so much out of pole fitness. My teacher, Hayley, has worked really hard with me to help strengthen my core and flexibility. Mentally, it’s great too because I know I’m improving, I have a focus and it’s a good laugh. “My aim is to get upside down on the pole, unaided, by the end of 2017,” she says. But that is not her only goal. This month, George finally became care-free, which means she can live her life with the absolute minimum of help. She is celebrating in a typically George fashion, by getting a tattoo and traveling to Mexico - on her own.
There are numerous places to learn pole fitness across Yorkshire, but George trains with Hayley Morrell at www.uniquepolefitness.co.uk in Bradford.