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Norfolk woman named sailor of the year in Royal Yachting Association Sailability awards

PUBLISHED: 16:12 27 February 2019 | UPDATED: 16:20 27 February 2019

RYA Sailability Sailor of the Year Bryony Limb in action on the Norfolk Broads with the Nancy Oldfield Trust.
Photo: Bill Smith

RYA Sailability Sailor of the Year Bryony Limb in action on the Norfolk Broads with the Nancy Oldfield Trust. Photo: Bill Smith

Broads Authority © 2016

A north Norfolk woman who defied doctors' expectations after suffering a catastrophic brain injury as a youngster has been named Sailor of Year in an annual awards scheme run for people with disabilities by the Royal Yachting Association.

RYA Sailability Sailor of the Year Bryony Limb in action on the Norfolk Broads with the Nancy Oldfield Trust.
Photo: Bill SmithRYA Sailability Sailor of the Year Bryony Limb in action on the Norfolk Broads with the Nancy Oldfield Trust. Photo: Bill Smith

Bryony Limb, who lives with her mother and step-father, Kirsten and Richard Barr, near Bacton, was left severely brain damaged as a result of a medical accident at the age of four.

Her parents were told she was unlikely to survive, but, after months in a coma at Addenbrooks Hospital, she gradually began to make progress.

Bryone Limb, who has been named  Sailor of the Year in the Royal Yachting Association Sailability Awards.
Photo: Bill SmithBryone Limb, who has been named Sailor of the Year in the Royal Yachting Association Sailability Awards. Photo: Bill Smith

Although she was left with a significant learning disability and physical challenges including haemiplegia, which means she has very little mobility in her right side and needs full-time care, Bryony went on to attend college and pass her GCSEs.

Ten years ago, she began sailing with the Nancy Oldfield Trust with the support of her mother and immediately fell in love with the sport.

RYA Sailability Sailor of the Year Bryony Limb with Nancy Oldfield Trust centre manager Stephen Bradnock.
Photo: BILL SMITHRYA Sailability Sailor of the Year Bryony Limb with Nancy Oldfield Trust centre manager Stephen Bradnock. Photo: BILL SMITH

“I think Bryony loves the independence of sailing and being able to move around and go fast on the water,” Mrs Barr said. “She also absolutely loves the wildlife on the Broads and being in the countryside.”

After passing her level one Royal Yaching Association dinghy sailing exams, Ms Limb, 34, went on to pass her level two award, also embarking on a tall ship adventure at sea with the Jubilee Sailing Trust.

RYA Sailability Sailor of the Year Bryony Limb in action on the Norfolk Broads with the Nancy Oldfield Trust.
Photo: Bill SmithRYA Sailability Sailor of the Year Bryony Limb in action on the Norfolk Broads with the Nancy Oldfield Trust. Photo: Bill Smith

She now sails independently accompanied by a carer and was thrilled to be nominated for a RYA Sailability Award.

“When we read about the achievements of the other sailors, we felt very privileged when Bryony won,” Mrs Barr said. “It was overwhelming as we knew how much she wanted it and, after having such a terrible brain injury, it was a great achievement for her.”

Stephen Bradnock, who is centre manager at the Nancy Oldfield Trust’s Neatishead headquarters said the award was recognition of Ms Limb’s “relentless optimism” and her commitment and perseverance in the face of considerable personal challenges.

He added: “Bryony always brings sunshine to the trust on her regular visits and has an indomitable spirit as well as a seemingly inexhaustible supply of jokes with which to entertain our volunteer instructors.”

Ms Limb collected her award at a special ceremony hosted by the RYA at Wyboston Lakes, Bedford.

For more information about the Nancy Oldfield Trust, visit www.nancyoldfield.org.uk

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