Near-death experience transformed woman’s life

Rebecca Powell
Rebecca Powell

Lying in a hospital bed with shattered legs and a fractured skull may not be the best place from which to plan world domination.

But for one new arrival in the town, a horrific motorway accident was the spur to begin a new life and a new career as a singer – and Hastings was the place she chose to launch the dream.

Rebecca Powell, who lives in St Leonards, spent 10 weeks in a hospital bed and many more in physiotherapy and occupational therapy following the accident two years ago.

It was a smash that took her to the very edge of the abyss but, to the amazement of her doctors, she survived, escaped paralysis and made an astonishingly swift recovery.

But, on returning to the everyday world, the 38-year-old native of West Yorkshire found that her life had changed – and not simply because she had a dent in her skull, a limp in her leg and a blue badge for registered disabled parking in her car.

The 38-year-old former social worker said: “Coming that close to death makes you take a good, long look at life.

“You realise that this is not a dress-rehearsal. We’re here and now and we have to do something with the time we’re given.

“Just as I had to learn to walk again, I felt I had to learn to live my own life again. All bets were off and everything I had accepted or taken for granted had to be junked!”

The first thing Rebecca decided to do was to quit her native Bradford and head for the Sussex coast.

She said: “I’d been to Hastings and St Leonards a couple of times in the past and I’d always found the town to be really invigorating. There’s so much creativity and energy here and, after recovering from the accident, I just knew it was the place for me. I’d always loved music and singing and I decided that singing was what I wanted to do more than anything and this town was the place to get started.”

To the amazement of family and friends, Rebecca packed her bags and made the 280-mile trek to start a new life in a new town alone. She added: “People said ‘you’re leaving everything behind’ but it didn’t feel like that to me. There was nothing wrong with my life.

“I simply realised that it just wasn’t right. I knew I could do better. I knew I had to follow my heart.”

Rebecca soon became a regular at the ‘open mic’ nights staged by clubs and pubs and, in particular, at the Gecko bar on St Leonards seafront. It was while performing there that she was ‘spotted’ and invited to join the line-up for two fundraising shows being staged by a charity raising money for the children of Sudan.

She said: “I was dead chuffed when they asked me to perform. It was a real honour because it’s such a worthy and important cause. I’m on the bill at the Pig in Paradise tomorrow (Saturday) and then again at the West Exit on Sunday, (September 21). At the moment, I’m singing covers with a backing track but I really want that special feel of playing live with good musicians and there are so many of them in this town.”