'My Victoria is a miracle'

Former teenage national rowing champion suffered a severe brain injury from a car accident and is now making plans to do her GCSEs.

A father said his family has been put through 'hell' after a dangerous driver crashed into their car and left his teenage daughter with a severe brain injury. Victoria, 14 from Lincolnshire, was left with major skull fractures and a collapsed lung after Illya Weston careered into the family's car as a result of sleep deprivation or drug use. She was in an induced coma for two months, can still only say a few words and has to communicate by iPad. Weston was due to be sentenced for causing serious injury by dangerous driving, possessing amphetamine and driving without insurance on Friday August 19, but the hearing had to be postponed because he had fallen ill by injecting drugs. Victoria's father, Howard Lyon, said the crash had shattered their lives. He added: "Yes, it's been hell because I would never want another family to go through that first fortnight when the prognosis was not good at all. "And there was no purposeful movement at all for three months – and then she came back to us. A miracle." Mr Lyon, his wife Judith and Victoria, from Brant Broughton, were returning to Lincolnshire after watching Newark Rugby Club play against Paviors at Arnold when the accident happened.   Mr Lyon said her brother William, 20, was a constant presence by Victoria's hospital bedside. She is now hoping to start rowing again by the end of the year. Mr Lyon added: "Things started to happen because she was a really fit girl, determined to succeed in everything she did. "It was a battle, but nobody at the Queen's Medical Centre gave up on Victoria and she certainly didn't give up on herself. "Intensive physiotherapy followed, and as last year's English Schools' indoor rowing champion she found reserves of strength we never knew existed. "We can't thank the medical teams enough, but it's really all down to Victoria. "She'd run upstairs if you let her – and the fact that she wouldn't make it to the top couldn't stop her." Victoria, who is now 14 and has also played rugby and netball to a very high standard, added: "My aim is to get back rowing on the water by the end of this year because I know my strength is coming back all the time.
"I'm doing as much as I possibly can to get my fitness back despite my injuries and I want to go back to school so I can pass my GCSEs next summer. "Rugby may be a problem, but there's no reason why I can't play netball again." Newark Rugby Club girls' coach Mark Dobb said Victoria's inspirational attitude had taken her under-15s team-mates all the way to the national title with a 17-14 triumph over Somerset side Winscombe at Banbury in May. Mr Dobb, who spearheaded a £10,000 fundraising campaign to buy equipment for Victoria's recovery programme, said: "Victoria went to every match in the cup run. The motivation she provided to the team was immense. "She very much remained part of the team and while she was in hospital the girls had a 'Song for Victoria' on social media which was supported by the England women's team."

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