St Albans car crash survivor joins celebrities at Christmas concert for National Brain Appeal

PUBLISHED: 06:00 22 December 2016 | UPDATED: 11:17 22 December 2016

Nicki Freeman with Anthony Calf and Nichola McAuliffe

Nicki Freeman with Anthony Calf and Nichola McAuliffe

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When teenager Nicki Freeman was seriously injured in a road accident in 2010, she suffered such severe brain injuries that her parents were warned to expect the worst.

Nicki Freeman reading at the serviceNicki Freeman reading at the service

But last week Nikki, now 24 and still living in St Albans, stood up in front of nearly 300 people in a London church to give a reading for The National Brain Appeal’s Christmas Concert.

She joined actors Nichola McAuliffe and Joanna David, had both suffered serious brain conditions at some point in their lives, and fellow actors Anthony Calf and Kevin Eldon, at the concert in St George’s Church, Queen Square.

Nicki, who was a pupil at St Albans High School where she was sitting her A-levels, was only 17 in June 2010 when her car left the road and hit a tree near Harpenden. Her parents Peter and Pauline and brother Chris found her unconscious in hospital and were warned she was on the brink of death.

Her condition was such that she was immediately transferred from Luton & Dunstable Hospital to the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London.

L-R - Joanna David, Nicki Freeman, Anthony Calf and Nichola McAuliffeL-R - Joanna David, Nicki Freeman, Anthony Calf and Nichola McAuliffe

Nicki had a diffuse axonal brain injury where she had small tears and lesions throughout her brain. Surgeons had to remove the front of her skull to allow her brain to swell, replacing this with titanium plates the following year.

After leaving The National Hospital, Nicki needed five years of neuro rehabilitation at several specialist centres as she fought her way back to living a normal life.

Nicki’s father Peter said: “Seeing Nicki take to the stage and read so calmly and beautifully was a very special and proud moment for Pauline and me. We are eternally grateful to The National Hospital for saving our daughter’s life and to all those who have generously supported The National Brain Appeal; they are a crucial part of our happy outcome.”

Anthony Calf, Kevin Eldon and Nichola McAuliffe read together and individually at the service, their pieces interspersed with Christmas carols and musical performances.

Theresa Dauncey, chief executive of The National Brain Appeal, said: “Our Christmas Concert is always a very popular event and we are delighted to have raised £5500 from ticket sales and donations on the night. We are so lucky and grateful to have the support of such hugely talented actors, singers and musicians who make the evening so magical, festive and entertaining.

“If we needed to be reminded of why it is so vital that we continue to raise money for The National Hospital, seeing patient Nicki Freeman stand up and read so beautifully after everything she has been through was all the evidence we need.”

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