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INTERVIEW: Morecambe family's incredible journey to karate world championships less than a year after heart scare

Carol and Pamela Slack

A 45-year-old mum from Morecambe has made an incredible comeback from major health scares to qualify for Team GB in karate alongside her sister and 10-year-old son.

Carol Slack took up karate to exercise after being rushed into hospital with a suspected heart attack, asking her sister Pamela to join her at classes for moral support.

Just months later, the former Morecambe High School pupils will compete in the European Martial Arts Games in London this August, and have also qualified for the world championships in Dubai next year.

Keeping it in the family, Carol's 10-year-old son Elliott Wilson has also qualified alongside his mum and auntie for Team GB at the European event.

After taking up karate, Pamela, a 36-year-old nurse, and Carol both won medals in a national competition, getting through to represent Team GB in their age categories at both the European and world competitions.

LISTEN to Carol Slack talking about her incredible journey to Team GB

Teacher Carol spoke to Beyond Radio to explain what happened to her and why she took up karate.

"On the way to work I felt like I was having a heart attack, I felt like my heart was stopping," she said.

"It turned out it wasn't a heart attack, it was just anxiety, but it certainly felt like I was having one.

"When the ambulance arrived the ECG showed up an anomaly on my heart. They said they'd put me on a waiting list.

"I had no idea how long I was going to have to wait. I thought, I need to stop smoking and I need to do more exercise and get my weight down.

"I was panicking. I was worried the kids would wake up and find me dead. That was my biggest concern.

"I'd had some experience of karate and sat at the side and watched my kids doing it a lot. I thought I might as well have a go and join in.

"I dragged my sister along for the ride and we've done really well. She'd done Taekwondo when she was younger. 

"We've gone from strength to strength.

"In a year since starting, I'm in Team GB!

"For anyone who's struggling out there, a lot can change in a year."

Carol achieved three silver medals and Pam a gold and bronze, at the Midland Open Martial Arts Competition in Birmingham in May.

This was just a few weeks after Carol was rushed to hospital again with Bell's Palsy, which causes sudden weakness in the facial muscles.

"In April I had Bell's Palsy and 6th cranial nerve palsy, which paralysed my eye muscles," she said.

"It was like living in a kaleidoscope.

"I ended up in hospital for three days. They thought it was a stroke initially. I got sent home, functionally blind for several weeks, but I still trained. I put an eye patch on and still went to Team GB training.

"It took eight weeks for my eyesight to finally return. I've made a full recovery."

A fundraising page has also been set up to help Carol and Elliott on their way to the European Martial Arts Games.

Elliott is pictured below.

Posting on the fundraising page, Carol said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for Elliott! He has worked hard for over two years to get where he is.

"He is currently a brown belt.

"I began training in July 2023 and I am amazed at how far I’ve come in such a short time. Being able to stand with him as an athlete is truly a dream of mine.

"Unfortunately athletes need to find the funds for registration, equipment additional GB squad training monthly, team GB kit and accommodation for the event. I’m sure you can appreciate, having to fund two athletes to do this is tough.

"And as a single parent and a part time teacher, this is something I will find incredibly difficult to find by myself.

"I have decided to swallow my pride and ask for your support. Any amount would help! Please help me and Elliott make it to the European Martial Arts Games! We do not want to give up on our dream."

The fundraising page can be found HERE.

Carol also thanked the senseis at the Dojo Karate Centre in Manchester.

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