A policewoman who was left paralysed after being involved in a horrific car accident has launched a new career – as a model!
Nicki Donnelly from Birmingham, England, had dreamt of being a policewoman since she was a little girl and had received six awards for bravery throughout her 10-year career.
But after her police car was hit by a speeding driver while out on patrol in 2009, the 34-year-old was left paralysed from the chest down and had to give up her dream job.
The driver who hit her was driving well over the speed limit and Nicki’s patrol car was totalled.
“He got out of his car and as soon as he saw I was a police officer his whole demeanour changed – it seemed like he just felt hate towards me,” Nicki says.
“There wasn’t a single dent [in his car] but my bonnet [was] completely caved in around me.
“He just started shaking me – there was no remorse, just pure hatred. He was swearing at me and then tried to run.
“But there were loads of witnesses around and they stopped him and called the police. He was driving at excess speed where I had right of way.”
The former police officer was then rushed to the hospital where medics told her she’d fractured her shoulder, eye socket, collarbone, wrist and jaw and suffered a broken back, hip and pelvis.
Over the next two years she lost the ability to walk and even talk. Eventually she was diagnosed with delayed spinal cord injuries and paralysed from the chest down.
“My body literally crumbled. I could feel bone shattering away every day and my bone density just got weaker and weaker.
“During the year in the hospital they wouldn’t allow my daughter to visit me – it was heartbreaking but I’d fight for my daughter; she’s my everything, my world,” she says.
After her diagnosis Nicki finally started her recovery and relearnt how to talk and get around in a wheelchair.
“I didn’t want to be a victim all over again so I decided to go outside with my daughter. We went clothes shopping as it’s something we both love.
“But people would speak to my daughter, not me, and would say things like, ‘Why does she bother wearing nice clothes in a wheelchair?’ I might be in a wheelchair but I still want to look good,” Nicki says.
The brunette beauty had previously modelled as a teenager but gave it up when she became a police officer.
After nearly five years of gruelling recovery and physiotherapy, a set of inspirational pictures she posted on social media were spotted by a photographer and Nicki is now signed with a leading model agency.
Since bagging a contract with Models of Diversity in 2016, she’s fronted campaigns for Apple, Boots and various other brands.
The mom of one has now decided to use her love of fashion and modelling to inspire other disabled people to follow their dreams.
“I’m going to fight for my right to represent disabled people – I’m a British-born, Indian, disabled Catholic woman and I think it’s hugely important for us to break down these barriers,” Nicki says.
“I’m also a motivational speaker and campaigner for injured police officers but people often don’t take me seriously.
“I hope that by modelling and campaigning I can make the fashion industry more inclusive and I hope others will join in or follow my lead.”
Sources: Magazine Features