Brain injury couldn’t stop smart Elizabeth

Elizabeth Smart has overcome a brain injury and achieved a commendation in a foundation degree in events management at B&FC.
Elizabeth Smart has overcome a brain injury and achieved a commendation in a foundation degree in events management at B&FC.
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Elizabeth Smart has certainly lived up to her name.

This courageous young woman is celebrating after gaining a Commendation in an Events Management Foundation Degree at Blackpool and The Fylde College.

It was a feat that never seemed possible a few years ago when she was recovering from a serious brain injury.

At 16 Elizabeth, then a pupil in Lower Sixth at King Edward Queen Mary School, got what she thought was a run of the mill throat infection.

But after going to bed with a tight throat one evening in January 2009 she contracted epiglottitis which closed off her windpipe, starving her brain of oxygen and leaving her in a coma.

When she came to in Royal Preston Hospital the next month, one of her first thoughts was to get back to school - but there were bigger hurdles to leap than just AS Levels.

Through months of gruelling therapy to learn how to walk, talk and perform every day tasks like brushing her teeth again Elizabeth kept her eye on her goal of getting back to education.

She returned to sixth form and gained a fantastic B grade in A Level English Literature before setting her sights on an exciting career in events.

The 21-year-old said: “At first they thought I was just going to be a vegetable, I wasn’t responding to anything.

“It was scary when I came to, but my first thought was ‘I’m going back to school’.

“It’s meant to be quite slow for anyone recovering from a brain injury but luckily age was on my side.

“It was hard but luckily I hadn’t been cognitively affected. I was so lucky in that sense, it’s amazing.”

For someone who’s had such a remarkable journey, she uses the phrase “lucky” an awful lot.

She’s clearly worked tirelessly to earn such an academic accolade, as well as learn how to walk and talk again and recover enough to regain sight which it was thought she would altogether lose.

But she is also quick to attribute her successes so far to the dedication of friends, family and tutors who’ve helped her along the way too.

“I’m proud of myself but I’m really thankful for everyone that’s around me, I’m blessed,” she added.

Elizabeth, of Bosworth Place, South Shore, started at Blackpool and The Fylde College in September 2010 and will this month graduate with the equivalent of a 2:1.

In the meantime she’s putting her theoretical knowledge of events management into practice, running events and workshops for a charity which she founded in 2010.