Horror accident: Harrogate woman's emotional reunion

An inspirational ex-Harrogate High School student still paralysed ten years after a horrific accident has spoken about her emotional reunion with the Harrogate police officer who comforted her parents while she was rushed to hospital.

By Graham Chalmers
Tuesday, 19th March 2019, 8:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 19th March 2019, 8:13 am
Inspirational young woman - Wheelchair-bound Lauren Doherty talking about road safety with Police Sergeant Paul Cording at Harrogate Police Station.
Inspirational young woman - Wheelchair-bound Lauren Doherty talking about road safety with Police Sergeant Paul Cording at Harrogate Police Station.

Wheelchair-bound Lauren Doherty, who one policeman has described as "being in awe of" for the inspirational work she now does in Harrogate school to promote road safety, said she would forever be grateful for the way the police officer had handled the situation.

On the night of Lauren’s accident, which happened when she was 19, a Response Officer still in his first two years of service, who attended the scene, was given the role of informing her family.

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Nearly 11 years on and with thanks to Traffic Sergeant Paul Cording at North Yorkshire Police, Lauren, Vince and Alyson were recently reunited with the same police officer who supported them as a family that night and were able to thank him in person, something they have been wanting to do ever since Lauren’s accident.

Alyson said receiving the news of her daughter's appalling accident, which happened after Lauren has been crossing the road after a night out, had shocked her.But the police officer had handled it in a very caring way and had been a "rock" at a terrible time,

She said "On the night itself I was woken by a knock at the door. I thought it was my husband who had forgotten his key after working a night shift. "As I walked down the stairs, I could see through the glass door and soon realised it wasn’t my husband, but a policeman"On hearing the news, I was in shock. The officer took me to the hospital where he waited with me until my husband arrived. "He was very caring, professional and an absolute rock when I needed it. I will never be able to thank him enough.""What was apparent to the family was that his genuine kindness, concern and care for the whole family which shone through at the reunion as it did all those years ago. "

After the horrific accident in which she broke her spine in two places, as well as her pelvis , Lauren went on to spent 16 months in different hospitals in Harrogate, Leeds and Sheffield.Despite still being paralysed and in a wheelchair, Lauren has now spoken in person to more 2,000 school children of all ages in the Harrogate area about road safety in the light of her own experiences.Her message has also reached thousands of people through social media, magazine and newspaper articles and radio broadcasts.Earlier this year she was nominated for two awards in the Yorkshire Choice Awards in both the Volunteer of the Year and The Kate Granger for Outstanding Contribution categories.

The police officer concerned currently has a post which requires him to remain anonymous in order not to jeopardise his role. But Lauren's father Vince said he was simply grateful to the police officer even though that person could not be named.

Vince said: "I had the privilege of meeting the officer who was so kind and compassionate to my wife during what was a very difficult time. "It was apparent that he is a genuinely decent individual as well as a credit to the Police Force. He will always have my gratitude."

The family spoke with the officer about events that night in August 2008 and it was evident that he could recollect the night as well as the family could. He wrote afterwards that after witnessing Lauren's accident, he never expected this miraculous outcome.

Lauren said: "Over the last ten years I have been told about the lovely police officer who supported my Mum on the night of my accident. "I learnt that he had been at the scene of my accident and that due to my injuries he hadn’t expected me to survive. "It was really nice to be able to meet him after all these years and I look forward to meeting him again when it is possible."

Police Sergeant Paul Cording, who organised the reunion between the family and the officer, said Lauren's case had been traumatic for everyone concerned. But he said he was "in awe" of how Lauren had bounced back to help others now.

He said: “Sometimes as police officers we have to deliver news to families that their loved one are seriously injured or in the very worst cases, no longer with us. "No amount of training can prepare you for this and trust me it is not like you see on TV programmes. "In Lauren’s case I am so pleased that I managed to play some small part in reuniting the family with my colleague who broke the news to them on the night of Lauren’s incident and supported them in the immediate aftermath. "I know from speaking to him after the recent meeting how emotional he found it and how pleased he was seeing the incredible work that Lauren is now doing."From a personal point of view I am still in awe of Lauren, her passion and inspiration to make a difference to road safety."

Road Safety Talks by Lauren Doherty sees the brave young woman using her personal experience of a road traffic accident to educate children and adults about road safety and disabilities.

Lauren said: “My life will never be the same again but if my story prevents even one person from experiencing what I have been through, then talking about life and road safety will have been worthwhile.”

Fothcoming dates for Lauren Doherty's Road Safety Talks

Harrogate Grammar School - Thursday 21st March

Thirsk High School - Tuesday 26th March

Meadowside School, Knaresborough - Wednesday 27th March

Skipton Young Firefighters - Thursday 28th March