Jill Dodds, who is originally from Morpeth but has been living in Thailand for around six years, was enjoying an end-of-term party when she decided to take a picture on a balcony on December 18
A British teacher plunged 20ft after a balcony collapsed while she took a picture at an end-of-term party.
Jill Dodds, who is originally from Morpeth but has been living in Thailand for around six years, was enjoying an end-of-term party when she decided to take a picture on a balcony on December 18.
The 47-year-old lent on the fence which gave way and plunged 20 feet, sustaining serious spinal injuries. Another person involved in the incident sustained a broken collar bone.
One of Jill’s vertebrae was crushed while another was fractured leaving her with no movement in her legs and no use of her hands and fingers, meaning she needs full-time care.
Her family is now desperately trying to raise as much money as possible to be able to get Jill back to the North East as soon as she is fit enough to travel.
Sister Katie Breeze, 39, said she felt “numb” after hearing the news, with the situation being made more difficult by Jill being so far away.
She said: “I felt really numb at first, it was just unbelievable. We just feel helpless at the moment. We’ve been talking to Jill as much as we can but it’s hard being this far away.”
Explaining what happened, Katie said: “It was an end-of-term party through the day, and at about 2pm they were taking pictures.
“As they lent on the fence, the fence gave way, another person fell and broke her collar bone and Jill was seriously hurt. She fell about 20 feet down damaging two of her vertebrae. One was crushed and one was fractured.
“She has no mobility from the waist down, no feeling in her legs, she can’t use her hands, she can’t move her wrists.
“She can’t hold anything, she has to be spoon-fed and she needs a straw to drink but she can talk and move her head.”
Katie said Jill’s health insurance covered a trip in the ambulance and her stay in ICU at a private hospital. But her coverage has now been used up and she has been moved to a government hospital.
She said: “At the moment she is in a Thai government hospital, she’s been there about a week.
“She had an operation where metal rods were inserted to take some of the pressure off her nerves.
“They don’t know about long-term damage at the moment. We were initially told it would take two years before she would be walking again but we just don’t know.”
Jill’s friends and work colleagues have rallied around the popular teacher, visiting her in hospital and even looking after her two dogs as well as keeping loved ones back home informed.
Katie said: “We’re in contact with her friends over there and people she works with who have been great. They are trying to explain everything to us as we don’t know what kind of care she’s getting, we want to get her home as soon as she’s able to travel.
“We were told after her operation she would need to be in hospital for at least two weeks and it would be six weeks until she would be fit to travel.”
Jill’s friends even brought her a Christmas dinner to help boost morale.
Katie said: “She’s pretty down, she’s lucky she has a lot of people around her doing what they can to help her.
“When she doesn’t have her friends, she’s on her own for hours not able to do anything for herself which is really getting her down. A couple of her friends also brought her a Christmas dinner which was lovely.”
Katie added: “She was putting things in place to move back home but because of Covid, it kept getting put back. We hoped she was going to be home for Easter.”
A friend of the family, Leigh Hawkes, set up a Go Fund Me page on behalf of Jill’s sisters Katie and Nicola with the money raised going towards hospital bills and getting Jill home.
Katie said the family is “overwhelmed” by the support they have received so far with more than £10,000 already raised in just a few days.
She said: “The fundraising page really took off from Facebook because people were sharing it, we’re just overwhelmed with the response we’ve had.
“It’s been really surprising how many people have helped us even people we don’t know and all the messages we’ve had. Everything helps.
“It’s all girls in our family. Our mum had three girls me, Jill, and our other sister Nicola who has two girls, and I also have two girls so Jill has four nieces. We’re all really close.
“We’re just taking every day as it comes.”
The family is not sure how much money will be needed so are trying to raise as much as possible.
If you would like to donate, you can do so here.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.