A brave grandmum, who lost both her legs below the knee after developing blood poisoning, is raising funds to help other amputees in Africa.
Cath Thomson’s life changed after she went into hospital for a minor gynaecological operation.
She explained: “I had a small operation in November 2008, and was home the same day, but developed flu-like symptoms a few days after and was taken back into hospital.”
Cath had contracted septicaemia. She had a hysterectomy and surgeons had to remove her legs which were the source of the blood poisoning. She also lost the sight in one eye.
She said: “It was a trauma – you never think it will happen to you. I used to do power walking and did a ten-mile walk the day before I had my operation. It has not been easy but if you are determined you will do anything.”
She was in hospital for six months, four of which were spent recovering at the Astley Ainslie Hospital in Edinburgh where she was fitted with prosthetic legs.
Cath, 67, a lifelong resident of Gullane, is now raising cash to give people in Malawi and Zambia the same independence she got back.
She has been inspired to raise funds for Africa by quadruple amputee Olivia Giles, a lawyer from Edinburgh, who lost her hands and legs as a result of meningitis in 2002.
Olivia is holding a BIG Dinner as part of her 500 Miles charity which provides artificial limbs and braces for people with disabilities.
She is hoping to raise £500,000 in a single night on March 7 to help people with mobility difficulties in Malawi and Zambia to live independent lives.
Cath is ready to follow suit with her own event in Gullane Village Hall on March 6 which is already a sell-out. She will welcome 120 guests who will enjoy a two-course supper, grand raffle and light music to raise around £2000 for 500 Miles.
The food is being provided by sisters Katriona Dove and Lyndsay Campbell, for whom Cath used to babysit and who now run a catering business. Supporter Alison Greer is also helping with the cooking.
Cath now enjoys walks with the aid of her prosthetic limbs, has been to Australia to visit one of her two daughters and visits her four grandchildren in Surrey. She has also got through her driving test and is hoping to gain the confidence to get behind the wheel again.
She is keen to highlight what amputees in Malawi have to deal with, adding: “They don’t have funding like we have with the NHS. I can’t manage without my prosthetics.”
Cath praised the level of support she has received from the local community for her BIG Dinner and is urging supporters to organise their own BIG Dinners. Donations can still be made on the Just Giving page for the BIG dinner at http://www.justgiving.com/theBIGdinner