Melanie Reid, the Scotland-based Times writer who has been paralysed since she broke her neck in a riding accident earlier this year, has been chosen to front the paper’s Christmas Charity Appeal this year.
Reid, who continues to write a column – ‘Spinal Injury’ in The Times Magazine every Saturday – launches the appeal with a major feature in a double-page spread in today’s newspaper.
Reid, a former senior assistant editor of The Herald, has just been awarded the Print News Media International Award run by the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability. The judges said that her column provided “honest, funny, painful, and almost unbearable detail of her traumas and small triumphs as each week of her disabled life unfolds”.
Receiving the award on her behalf, Magnus Linklater, Scotland editor of The Times, said that her journalism demonstrated “the unquenchable resilience of the human spirit”.
Speaking to the awards ceremony guests in London by video link from her hospital bed in Glasgow, Melanie said: “I am very honoured to receive this prestigious award, and if my column in The Times has helped to open people’s eyes to disability, or inspired fellow sufferers to keep fighting, then I’m delighted something good has come out of personal catastrophe.”
Among the charities chosen by The Times is the Spinal Injuries Association, which operates in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and Spinal Injuries Scotland, which does the job north of the Border.
In her feature today, Reid says: “I cannot think of a more worthy Christmas Appeal by The Times than one to support the charities that operate on this bleak front line, striving to offer human succour and to alleviate the ignorance that surrounds spinal cord injury.
“I have described my first sight of my own paralysed legs as the equivalent of experiencing a compound fracture of the soul.
“I can also say, on behalf of all paralysed patients, that the effect on your life, and that of your family, is quite simply the equivalent of a small nuclear bomb.
“It blows apart everything: your present, your future, your relationships, your lifestyle, your income, your security, your dreams; even your very identity.”