A promising cellist fears her dreams of turning professional have been shattered after she nearly lost her arm when it was driven over by a lorry.
Cyclist Laura Armstrong, 23, was forced to drop out of a prestigious music college and put her career on hold after suffering severe injuries to her right arm.
The talented musician, who has performed with world famous conductors and composers including Sir Mark Elder and the late Oliver Knussen, was knocked down when a lorry crossed into her cycle lane.
Laura was rushed to The Royal London Hospital where she underwent emergency surgery, inserting a vein graft into her arm to replace the main artery, which had been destroyed.
Two days later, she underwent a further 11 hour operation which involved a nerve graft, two plates for a fracture and skin grafts from her right and left thighs.
Nearly two years after the incident, Laura, of East London, is still undergoing significant treatment and has just undergone further surgery.
But as a result of her injuries, Laura has been unable to continue with her master’s degree at the Royal College of Music and was forced to defer her place whilst she underwent rehabilitation.
She now fears her injuries will prevent her realising her dream of becoming a professional cellist after a promising start to her career that involved tours in Britain, Scandinavia and Singapore.
Laura said: “The crash happened so quickly. I was cycling in the cycle lane and suddenly the lorry turned directly across my path and I ended up under the lorry.
Laura nearly lost her arm. Photo: SWNS
“I remember picking my arm up from the road and my fingers were white and wouldn’t move. There was blood on the road. It was terrifying and excruciatingly painful. I never imagined one could be in such pain.
“The surgeons told me they were very close to amputating my arm but they were amazing and managed to save it. As a musician, what they did for me goes beyond words and I will always be thankful.”
“What happened that day continues to affect me still, both physically and emotionally. The accident has had a huge impact on my ability to do everyday things, including having to learn to write with my left hand.
“I have very little feeling in my right hand and limited movement in my arm and my greatest challenge is not knowing what the future holds for my career and if I will be able to become a cellist.
“I have an incredible professor, Raphael Wallfisch, and the Royal College of Music has helped me throughout my recovery. Music is hugely important to me so I am determined to keep trying.”
Laura instructed serious injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help her access the specialist rehabilitation and therapies she requires.
Laura Armstrong in hospital. Photo: SWNS
Originally from Newcastle, she has also joined her legal team in supporting the consultation on changes to The Highway Code.
One of the proposals – under rule H3 – will require motorists to give priority to cyclists when the driver is turning in or out of a junction or changing direction or lane.
Anna Pask, the specialist serious injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Laura, said: “Laura has faced an incredibly difficult time as she has attempted to come to terms with her injuries and the impact they’ve had on her life.
“The team at The Royal London did a fantastic job in saving Laura’s arm and while she has made progress in her recovery to date, she still faces many challenges ahead and will never regain full use of her arm.
“Given we represent people on a daily basis whose lives have been shattered as a result of death or serious injury on our roads, we support the proposed changes to The Highway Code as a welcome revision to assist all road users and improve road safety.
“We’re determined to support Laura so she can make the best possible recovery.”
Laura is a musician by trade. Photo: SWNS
Laura was on her way to meet friends for lunch when the collision happened in October 2019 in Stratford.
She remained in hospital for 12 days after the incident and she underwent extensive treatment.
“Cycling is more popular than ever and is important to ensure people remain active,” Laura, who is yet to return to cycling, added.
“So it’s vital that everyone feels safe on the roads. The proposed changes to the Highway Code could definitely help.”
The proposed new Rule H3 sets out that drivers should not cut across cyclists going ahead, when turning into or out of a junction, or changing lane.
This applies to cyclists using a cycle lane, cycle track or riding ahead on the road.