Shining example

Pictures Martin Bostock.'Pat Appleton of Blackpool who has been nominated to carry the torch for the 2012 olympic games.
Pictures Martin Bostock.'Pat Appleton of Blackpool who has been nominated to carry the torch for the 2012 olympic games.
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PAT Appleton says she is lucky to be alive and certainly lucky to be active and sporty.

But 14 years ago, the mum-of-two, who works at Tangerine Confectionery in Marton, was nearly killed in a horrific climbing accident which saw her plunge 600ft from a Scottish mountain.

It was grit and determination which got her through a very difficult time, learning to walk again.

Now she runs marathons, half-marathons, plays squash, raises money for charity, and volunteers for several organisations helping young people do activities.

She is such an inspiration, she has been nominated as an Olympic torch bearer to carry the torch through Blackpool next year.

Her colleague Dawn Keeling, who nominated her, said: “Pat is just amazing. She is such a lovely person and she does so much.

“I really don’t know how she fits it all in. We call her Superwoman. She is 58, but looks in her early 40s.

“For the last 10 years, she has dedicated almost all her time, outside work, to the local Windmill Youth Group charity. In her unique way, she motivates and encourages them to be the very best they can.

“She is a great mentor to so many people, she’s always raising money for charity.

“Pat is a super-fit lady, despite her very serious accident some years ago.

“Pat is an inspiration to all who have the privilege to know her. It would be a fitting honour for her to carry the torch in Blackpool.”

Pat, who is in charge of payroll at Tangerine Confectionery, and has three grandchildren, said she was delighted to have be nominated as a torch-bearer.

She donates all her time outside of work to volunteering, despite a commute from her home in Ormskirk to work and back every day.

The 58-year-old said: “I don’t really feel I am doing anything out the ordinary, but it was lovely to know I had been nominated. I would just love to be involved, even just run behind it, if I didn’t carry it.

“My aim is just to get youngsters active, to get them moving, doing things, to get them filling their potential.

“With obesity and diabetes on the rise in this country, it is so important for people to be active, especially youngsters.

“I do the Windmill Youth Group, with Stuart Sykes, who set it up and I help – I love it.

“My big project is Snows Heights, which aims to build a centre in Cumbria where young people in Blackpool could go and do activities. I like to do half-marathons and I have done marathons, to raise money for charity.

“I run a club at work, where I persuaded the lovely people I work with to donate £1 a week from their wages and they can win £50 or £100 every four weeks, and we raise money for charities that way.

“We helped kit out South Shore football team, we helped the morris dancers, we have raised money for young people. For me, it’s all about helping young people.”

Pat had been climbing in the Mamore Mountains, between Glencoe and Ben Nevis, in 1997, when she tripped and fell after her crampon caught on her trouser leg.

Six climbers have died in the last 25 years after falling from the narrow ridge between Am Bodach and Na Gruidachan, but Pat cheated death.

She broke her wrists and her leg, spent a long time in hospital and in bed, and had to undergo more than two years of intensive physiotherapy.

Mountain rescue experts were left amazed, as she was the first person to survive a fall from the notorious accident blackspot.

It didn’t put her off, as last month she did the Three Peaks Challenge for charity.

She said: “I was really lucky, you wouldn’t believe I was born on Friday 13th. It took me ages to be able to walk again and when I was lying there in bed, I watched people running marathons on TV and I told myself I was going to do that. It was determination and I made myself do it.

“I’ve loved sport ever since I can remember. Before I had the mountain accident, I played squash for Lancashire.

“I still love sport, love being active and being busy and I love to help young people.”

Chris Marshall, managing director of Tangerine Confectionery, added: “Pat works like you wouldn’t believe. She does so much for underprivileged children. She literally fell off a mountain and broke more bones than you can shake a stick at, but it hasn’t stopped her. She is totally committed to their cause.”