Farewell to Sharron, one of racing’s fighters

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“Life does not stop because you are in a wheelchair. We still have a choice, we can be negative or positive.”

The words of Sharron Murgatroyd the former jockey left paralysed by a racing fall in 1991, who died in hospital on Friday aged 54.

This week paying tribute to the Yorkshire lass who loved horses her family, and friends from the racing world, have called the writer and charity worker an inspiration who was true to her words.

Sharron’s mother Thelma who is 80, and lives in Yorkshire, said she had been taken ill after suiffering a heart attack at her Kentford home on Tuesday.

“One of her carers Debbie-Jane Challenger, resuscitated her and called paramedics. She was taken to hospital where unforntunately she developed a chest infection and pneumonia,” said Thelma.

“Initially the hospital reports were that she was fine but on Friday we got a call saying her condition had deteriorated and we should come at once. Justine, Sharron’s sister and I were in the car on the M62 but we weren’t going to get there in time because we got the call from the hospital saying she had passed away.

“When we got to the hospital and we saw her she just looked so peaceful as if all her troubles had floated away. She always put on a brave face but she was in constant pain and there were dark days we saw that no-one else did ,” said Thelma”

Since the fall in a hurdle race at Bangor in August 1991 which left her paralysed, Sharron had lived in Kentford supported by a team of round-the-clock carers , who she called “her ladies.”

She received support from a tight knit group of close friends as well as organisations like the Injured Jockeys’ Fund . As well as getting involved in charity fundraising for the organisation, Sharron, who had written poems since she was a girl, concentrated on her writing. The first of her four books was Jump Jockeys Don’t Cry and shde also published a collection of poems aptly titled Nil Desperandum.

And it is from one of those poems, Undying Love, that Sharron’s family have taken their instructions for her funeral mass at Newmarket’s Roman Catholic Church on Thursday April 10 at 2pm.

Sharron once said: “I treat the whole thing as my journey and I’ve been through some rough terrain over the last few years but I know it has helped me understand the hardship that many disabled people face every single day of their lives, whereas I have had the luxury of being in charge of my own life and not tied down with too much bureaucracy, albeit sometimes with a fight.”

Racing has certainly lost one of its bravest fighters.