Lane Fox describes agonising recovery from crash injuries

By Terri Judd
Thursday 06 October 2011 00:41

A year after a car crash nearly killed her, the millionaire Martha Lane Fox has described her long, agonising road to recovery.

A year after a car crash nearly killed her, the millionaire Martha Lane Fox has described her long, agonising road to recovery.

"The human spirit is formidable, not just in me but in other people. You just do not want to give up, even when you are in unbelievable pain, feeling like your life has ended," she said.

After more than a dozen operations, the 32-year-old is still very weak and walking with crutches. Having severely injured her right arm and leg as well as smashed her pelvis in six places, she continues to undergo physiotherapy but remains doggedly optimistic. "I very much hope that by the end of the year I will be pretty much back to normal," she said.

Five months after the co-founder of stunned the business community by stepping down as managing director after six years, she was enjoying a holiday in Morocco with her new boyfriend, the entrepreneur Chris Gorell Barnes, now 32. With Mr Gorell Barnes's friend Duncan Flower at the wheel the group were driving near Essaouira on 2 May 2004, to go kite-flying on a beach.

The car swerved on a wet road and Ms Lane Fox - who was travelling without a seatbelt in the open-top vehicle - was thrown clear, smashing her right side and suffering serious internal injuries. The other two were injured but not seriously.

Ms Lane Fox was first taken to a local hospital but then transferred to a larger one in the capital, Rabat. Doctors were not optimistic about her chances and friends arranged for a private plane to fly her to the trauma unit at the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford. "Mr Keys [the surgeon Richard Keys] put me back together," said Ms Lane Fox, who now has metal in her arm, leg and pelvis. "I am a bionic woman."

She said her darkest moments came when she felt she had lost control. "I felt like I was an animal. But I never thought I was going to give up. It just made me think, this can't be happening.

"My mother was there every day for six months, just reiterating, you can do this, we can do this," she said in an interview with The Sunday Times.

She made it into rehabilitation in September but had to learn to sit, stand and use her arms and legs again.

Earlier this month the young businesswoman - along with other board members - sanctioned its sale to Sabre, the US owner of Travelocity, for £577m. She netted a further £13.5m to add to a previous £5m.

She said she now planned to run established businesses and use some of her money to invest in other people's start-up ideas.

The past year, Ms Lane Fox insisted, had reinforced her view that the only way to be was optimistic and consider everything possible, rather than impossible.

"I feel unbelievably lucky on many levels. I feel lucky I had people around me to help me get better. I feel lucky that I had family contacts to get me out of Morocco. I feel lucky that the doctors I had put me back together. I feel lucky that I have money so I can pay people to look after me."

Ms Lane Fox, who was recently reported to be contemplating marriage to Mr Gorell Barnes, said any investment in other business was likely to be what she termed "social entrepreneurship", to help people not normally able to raise start-up cash.

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