Terminally-ill Sparty Lea woman's lifeline road to be re-opened

Anne Wilson has to travel to the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle every two weeks for blood transfusions and more regularly for assessments

Anne Wilson with her partner Harry Thirlwell
Anne Wilson with her partner Harry Thirlwell

Emergency repairs have been carried out on a rural road after fears damage would leave a terminally ill woman housebound in the last months of her life.

Anne Wilson, 71, of remote Sparty Lea, near Allendale in Northumberland, suffers from Myelofibrosis, a disorder which impairs her body’s ability to generate new blood cells. She was told in November she had only six months to live.

Mrs Wilson has to travel to the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle every two weeks for blood transfusions and more regularly for assessments.

So she and her partner Harry Thirlwell, 80, were alarmed when Northumberland County Council closed the road by which she travels to Newcastle, following a landslip, telling them it would be 2015 before the necessary repairs could be carried out which would allow it to reopen.

An alternative route was suggested but this would be along a road which is impassable when it snows - a common occurrence in the area during winter.

Mr Thirlwell, a self employed forester, contacted Hexham MP Guy Opperman and their local county councillor, registering the couple’s concerns that Mrs Wilson might not be able to get to hospital.

Now, the county council has begun temporary repairs which will allow Mrs Wilson to use the road to travel to her appointments.

The condition of the U8004, which links the hamlet to Allendale and joins the road to Newcastle, is said to have been deteriorating for 10 years, with the road surface subsiding and ultimately causing the landslip.

In December, the county council closed the road other than to local traffic branding it dangerous. Shortly before Christmas, the authority put in concrete barriers, blocking any use.

Mrs Wilson had been travelling to Newcastle along the road via a hospital taxi with Mr Thirlwell taking her to meet the vehicle in Allendale in case it could not get through.

The couple were told they could take an alternative route via Allenheads but say that is susceptible to snow drifts.

Mrs Wilson told The Journal: “I am concerned about not getting the blood because it is other people’s blood that is keeping me alive at the moment. Without it the haemoglobin and the platelets would drop and I am not making enough myself to keep me going.

“We are concerned that I can not get out to get to the blood. I do desperately need blood unfortunately and if the road was blocked and I can not get out I do not know what would happen.”

Following pressure from county councillor for Allendale, Colin Horncastle, and Allendale Parish Council, the authority has begun temporary work which will allow local use of the road.

A spokeswoman confirmed: “The unclassified road at Sparty Lea, between Allendale and Allenheads is closed following a landslip which has left the road in a dangerous condition.

“We are carrying out temporary repairs to a section of the road to allow access only for residents to Sparty Lea. The road remains closed to HGV vehicles.

“The work will start immediately and should take no longer than five days. We are planning to carry out works to the roads in 2015. In the meantime we are monitoring the road on a weekly basis.”

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