An inspirational young woman has battled back from a severe brain injury and a heart attack to land her dream job.
Samantha Nicol, 28, from Broughton in the Scottish Borders, fell from her horse almost six years ago and was trampled under its hooves.
This caused a multi-tiered brain injury after which she had to learn how to write, walk and talk again.
Then just three months ago, the caring woman had a heart attack at work as she helped move residents at Mansfield Care’s Peebles Care Home into the dining room for lunch.
But she returned to her work within two months and is now the new activities co-ordinator at the home.
She said: “I know from having to rely on people caring for me and now caring for others what people really need.”
From the age of 15 Samantha helped to look after her terminally ill father David, who had bowel cancer and died at 64.
Samantha was only 16 when he died but she knew from that point she wanted to work in care.
She turned her attentions to caring for her mum Sandra, who suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Sandra died from the condition in April and Samantha is still coming to terms with her mum’s death.
Samantha, however, also had health concerns of her own. In 2015, she fell from her horse as she was training her.
She said: “Something spooked her when I was about to dismount. It was a freak accident. My hands were caught in the reins and she was running in circles.
“I think she stood on me a fair bit.”
Samantha’s partner Allan Kerr, 30, saw it happen and raced to help and call an ambulance. Samantha said: “I had a lot of traumatic brain injury.
|Afterwards my speech was slurred and I developed a stutter and I had no short-term memory.”
She also damaged her neck and shoulders from being dragged and broke a rib.
But at Borders General Hospital she was diagnosed with concussion and was sent home the next day.
Her mum turned from patient to carer to help her recover but her condition was worsening. It was only after a head injury charity got involved she was able to have scans which showed the real extent of her brain injury.
She worked at the Co-op at the time and it took her 14 months before she was able to return. Even now she still suffers mild effects of speech slurring when she gets tired.
In January last year, she began work as a care assistant and loved her new role.
But in October, she began to feel a tell-tale pain in her left arm then ended up having a heart attack.
She said: “It was a wake-up call. I had been stressed over everything, particularly losing mum, and I hadn’t been eating as healthily as I should.
“But it was mild and I was just in hospital three or four days. I have made dietary changes and now feel healthier and stronger every day.”