Trainee paramedic from Pinchbeck in training for London Marathon 2019 to raise money for South Holland-based charity, The Lighthouse Project
A trainee paramedic from Pinchbeck is going "from wheelchair to marathon runner" with help from a Spalding-based charity.
Carly Wilkinson (32) is stepping up her training for next year's London Marathon through which she is hoping to raise at least £2,500 for The Lighthouse Project, the charity that "saved my life".
Six years ago, Carly moved to Spalding from Dorset where she experienced a "traumatic childhood" which led her to what she described as "extreme self-harm".
On one occasion Carly throw herself off a second floor balcony, breaking her back which left her wheelchair-bound and later relying on walking sticks for mobility.
She said: "I was a very insecure woman all because of anxiety.
"I had very few friends who I could go and see about the traumatic childhood I'd had and I couldn't cope with living in this world.
"So I made up my world, even though I was a broken person, both physically and emotionally.
"Although I'd been getting support from mental health teams where I was, they just weren't offering me anything any more and I reached a point where I didn't want to stay that way.
"But I was very limited physically, I was in a lot of pain and I never really thought I'd leave my wheelchair."
Carly was helped by The Lighthouse Project, a charity helping young people who are homeless, young mothers and vulnerable young women at risk from self-harming, eating disorders, depression and addictions related to childhood abuse.
Founder and director Jenny Tedbury said: "The Lighthouse Project provides homes for homeless young people, we help girls with life-controlling issues and teenage mothers at risk of homelessness.
"We also run a mums and toddlers group, furniture store, shop and cafe as we get no funding from the Government or Lincolnshire County Council."
Carly was supported by staff at Karis House, part of The Lighthouse Project which is funded largely by donations and sponsorship.
"Karis House saved my life and took me from a pit of depression to a place where I can work full-time and run in the London Marathon next year," Carly said.
"I trusted the staff at Karis House to really get me through my anxiety and slowly, but surely, I started to regain control of my life to the point where I'm now experiencing things that I'd never experienced before.
"I felt safe and secure in sharing my history with the staff who helped me and brought me to a point where I could be a functional human being again."
Two of the positive outcomes from Carly's life-changing encounter with Karis House and The Lighthouse Project is a passion for running, which she started two years ago, as a job as a trainee paramedic with East of England Ambulance Service.
Carly said: "When I was growing up, I wanted to be a nurse but it's only since coming to Spalding that the door to this job just opened up for me.
"My hope is to do the London Marathon in under five hours and I'd like to raise at least £2,500 for Karis House and The Lighthouse Project.
"There's a clearly a need for the work done by the charity, otherwise its homes wouldn't be full."
To follow Carly's training for the London Marathon, go to carlyforkaris.com and to sponsor her, visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/CarlyforKaris