Victoria Abbott-Fleming giving her inspirational talk to students

Inspirational woman who defied excruciating illness urges students to help others

It’s hard to contemplate how a minor fall down a flight of stairs at work could lead to something life-changing. But that’s what happened to Victoria Abbott-Fleming, diagnosed with CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) – a little understood condition.

The illness, known as one of the most excruciating there are, resulted in Victoria losing both her legs. Happening soon after passing her exams to become a barrister, it ended her dreams of forging a successful law career.

In spite of this setback and the pain caused by her illness, her determination to help others with CRPS led Victoria to set up the charity Burning Nights and share her story. She has been named Aspire magazine’s Inspirational Woman of the Year 2016, with Burning Nights being awarded Charity of the Year 2016.

And now, she has visited students and colleagues at our Openshaw campus to deliver an inspirational presentation. Commenting on her visit, Victoria said, "Thanks for inviting me to speak at The Manchester College and thank you to the staff and students who came to hear my story. I was concerned that the students would find my story too serious to listen to, but I didn't need to worry. They were all attentive and wanted to know more which was great. I hope they gained an insight and understanding into the world of disability and hidden disabilities."

Amanda Sillett, Head of Department for Student Experience (Equality & Diversity), said: “Victoria shared some very personal emotions and situations with us in order to assist us to understand not only the medical condition, but how, even in the face of adversity, a positive attitude can change even the darkest of situations.

She used anecdotes and witty lines to convey her story and living with the condition.

“Victoria was able to give her listeners a realistic and honest picture of how she has handled the challenges faced by someone suffering from CRPS and how she has learned to persevere. Victoria now wants to help others affected by the condition to receive support via her charity and its work.”

The group was really inspired by Victoria’s amazing story. She showed them that anything is achievable as long as they have the self-motivation and willingness to help others.

Following her presentation, one student said: “Victoria was inspirational. She was so positive about the future and driven to support others with CRPS and disability.”

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22nd May 2017