Travel agent who suffered severe spinal injury organising fundraiser for physio team that helped her walk again


Helena Crowley is organising a major golf fundraiser in support of the physio unit that helped play a role in her recovery from a severe spinal injury, reports Clodagh Dooley

Helena Crowley, centre, a former patient at CUH, with Monkstown Golf Professional Shane Irwin and Colm Clarke, a physiotherapist at CUH, at the launch of the CUH Charity Golf Classic to be held at Monkstown Golf Club on April 20. Book your team at: Pic by: Brian Lougheed.

Lee Travel employee Helena Crowley, who also previously worked with City Travel Cork and Sunworld Holidays, spent five months in Cork University Hospital (CUH) after suffering paralysis in her hands and legs.

Now, just over a year later, the keen golfer is drumming up support for a four-ball Golf Classic at Monkstown Golf Club on April 20th.

The funds raised will enable CUH Charity to buy new equipment for the hospital’s physio unit – which played a pivotal role in her recovery.

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“It was St Stephen’s Day in 2021 when all the feeling in my legs went and I couldn’t stand up,” recalls Helena,

“I was getting worse and after two days, I called my friend Lucy McPolin, an occupational therapist, who said I needed to get to the hospital.”

An operation in Dublin’s Mater Hospital was followed by a five-month stint in CUH from early January until late May 2022.

She was then sent to the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dún Laoghaire for a further 10 weeks.

“Through all of this, it was CUH physio staff – and particularly Colin Clarke – who got me walking again and I decided that I wanted to do something to thank them,” says Helena. 

“I was there during Covid and had few visitors, so I had to make friends with all the nurses and physios!”

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The CUH physio team put her through her paces, using strengthening exercises, gym work and parallel bars.

She got back on her feet last March – and by November was finally able to walk unaided.

“I woke up one day, stood up, walked out of the bedroom into the bathroom and went ‘oh my God!’

“I’ve always been positive. I’m never going to give up and it helped to have a great friend in Jeanette Taylor, who has been with me through it all since I became ill.”

Helena now hopes her friends and contacts in the travel industry will be among those supporting the Golf Classic on April 20th.

A portion of the proceeds will also go to the Robbie Smart Fund in memory of one of her colleagues, a highly-respected figure in the travel trade, who died suddenly in November, aged 44.

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The Laois native, who lived in Drogheda, Co Louth, was posthumously honoured with the first ‘On the Road Hero’ award at the Irish Travel Industry’s 2023 awards.

*If you can support the Golf Classic, (€400 per team), book your tee time at:

Tee times: 10am-12pm and 2pm-4pm, followed by a two-course meal.




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