SUPPORT from the ‘wonderful Wellington Community’ has given Elaine Radbone a second chance in a life that she thought was over.

In 2015, Elaine and a group of friends were involved in a head-on crash at Stone Gallows, on the edge of Taunton, and she came close to losing her foot.

“Luckily, I came away with it still intact, held together with pins, nuts and bolts, but having left me with a permanent limp,” she said.

“Because of the long term physical and mental stress and PTSD, I thought I wouldn’t be capable of working again.”

But she is working again – as a fused glass artisan. She launched an online business venture called Glasstopia which she has now extended as Splashbacks by Glasstopia, creating and fitting bespoke fused glass splash-backs.

After the accident, Elaine’s family wanted her to move back to Derbyshire where she and her husband Michael lived before moving to Wellington in May 2013: “But our roots were well and truly grounded.

“Having moved from a large Derbyshire town, we were bowled over with the Wellington community spirit and its beautiful surroundings. We immediately fell in love with the place and the welcoming, friendly people.

“Both Michael and I found work immediately, Michael at Fox Brothers and myself at Wellington Boots and then as a chef at Drakes Place Residential Home in Wellington.”

All that changed after the accident, when she was 54, and spending ten days in Musgrove Park Hospital: “I didn’t know that my life would drastically change forever after that night!

“Luckily for me, my optimism found its way back. I wasn’t going to let this beat me. I decided to use my convalescence to do some serious thinking about my future.

“I have always had a passion for art in all forms and decided it was now or never.”

Having received compensation, she undertook some intense courses, bought a large wooden cabin which Michael erected in the back garden, and filled it with the essential tools, including two kilns, and ‘burned the midnight oil’ for the next 14 months creating glassware.

Elaine said: “There is a lot more to working with glass than meets the eye: for example, drilling holes in it, cutting, grinding, sandblasting and firing it – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg! 

“One firing alone can take 16 hours and more often than not fired twice or more to get the right effect. But it’s very rewarding.”

Elaine finds a lot of her inspiration from Somerset, its parks and the nearby Jurassic Coast, but also: “The Wellington Pop-Up Shop has been invaluable to me, as is Nico’s Art Gallery in Wellington. It has boosted my confidence no end with the positive and encouraging feedback from my great local community, family and friends.

“Support from the wonderful Wellington Community has given me a second chance in a life which I thought was over, and I will be forever grateful. 

“Even during lockdown, when everyone’s spirit was low, I joined the Wellington WI which worked wonders for that isolated feeling, and learning to zoom too.”

And she said: “Whether you’ve had a traumatic experience or are feeling  lost and broken, let your community support you and you’ll never look back.

“Believe in yourself and your community and the world’s your oyster.”