SALLY Rudd went from paper girl to guardian angel for an 82-year-old woman who broke her hip in the early hours of the morning last week.
Sally, 14, of Old Walcot, has had a delivery route for the Adver since October 2012, and regularly passed Thelma Farmer, of Upham Road, during her rounds.
But last Monday at around 7am she turned onto The Lawns to hear a familiar voice crying for help.
Thelma had been walking her dog as she did every day, but had stepped off the path in the muddy conditions and lost balance, falling heavily on her hip.
“She was lying on the ground calling out for help, and I recognised her voice straight away,” said Sally. “I was on my bike so I got to her as quickly as I could.”
Sally did not know what was wrong with Thelma but she refused to leave her.
“We do first aid in school but I did not really know what was wrong with her, so I told her not to move in case anything was broken,” she said. “I was holding her head up so it did not get wet, but she kept telling me to go to school because I was going to be late.
“I just wanted to make sure she was okay. It was a bit more important to stay with her.”
Sally went to knock on neighbouring houses for help and persisted until she found someone.
“After a while her neighbours came out, and a man passing with his dog stopped to see what was happening,” Sally said.
“Her hands were really cold, so I offered her my gloves. She didn’t want them and didn’t seem to be concerned about herself even though she was the one lying on the floor.
“I do not take my phone out on the paper rounds, so the man rang for an ambulance while we waited with her.
“As soon as I saw the ambulance coming and knew she was going to be alright I felt able to leave her with them.”
Thelma is now recovering well, and had been trying to track Sally down to thank her for what she did.
“Somebody was looking after me that day, and made her come round the corner at exactly the right moment,” said Thelma.
“We were complete strangers and I did not even know her name or who she worked for. “I had seen her every so often on my walks and we would say hello with a cheery smile. “She did so very well, and she is such a kind and gentle girl. She should be very proud of herself.
“There was water running all down the road, so I stepped off onto the mud. I had only gone five houses along the road before it happened, and I found myself lying in the soaking wet. “The adrenaline kicks in then, so there was not much pain but you do start to panic. Hypothermia sets in quickly at my age.
“I must have been lying on the ground for about five minutes or more. Usually I am a very capable, confident, bossy woman, and on that day it was wonderful to know I was okay.
“I will need to go through six more weeks of progressive work before I can use that leg again. Until then I have to hop.”
Thelma had been asking newsagents for the identity of Sally and wrote her a letter to say thank you.
She said: “Thank you is not the right word. I can only say that in my innermost thinking, as soon as I saw her I knew I was going to be okay. I can’t explain it but seeing her made me feel safe.”
Sally said: “I had no idea what I did meant so much to her. “In my opinion, I only did what anyone else would have done in that situation.”