Photo: Julie Waters
A Whitstable mother has successfully completed a half marathon in aid of Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance after battling a serious back condition which left her in a wheelchair.
Former travel agent Julie Waters, 38, was crippled by a back injury at work when she was 21 and had to learn to walk again as she lost all use of her left leg.
She spent the next 14 years in and out of a wheelchair and on crutches until she was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease and facet joint disease and underwent two back operations.
The mother-of-one gradually built up her fitness before completing the North London Half Marathon at Wembley last month, raising £700 for the air ambulance.
She said: "When I look back at how far I've come I still can't believe I've done it but I feel really proud that I've achieved something I never thought I would do.
"At 12 miles, my back gave out but I ran across the finish line which was absolutely overwhelming. All my family and friends were there and it was really emotional.
"There was a time where I wasn't even able to put one foot in front of the other but thanks to an amazing surgeon, I've been able to slowly build up more strength and fitness than I would ever have thought possible.
"On my wardrobe I've got a picture of me in a wheelchair on my 21st birthday and that was my motivation every time I thought I couldn't do it.
"In celebration of my new found hobby of running, I decided to take on my biggest challenge while giving to a wonderful local charity which relies heavily on our support to get off the ground and save lives each day."
Julie has so far raised £700 and can still be sponsored at www.justgiving.com/Julie-Waters2 where family and friends have left messages of support.
Her father wrote: "We are so proud of your achievements and how far you have come. You are amazing."
Another supporter added: "Amazing cause, you are inspiration of determination and commitment."