A MALVERN woman has thanked the people who helped get her life back on track after being struck down with a debilitating illness.

Sarah Nicholls, aged 33, of Tennyson Drive, lost her job as a senior course director at Malvern Hills Outdoor Centre after being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which left her unable to walk.

The mother-of-two was diagnosed with the life-long condition, which causes widespread muscle pain and chronic fatigue, 18 months ago. But thanks to help from staff at the Malvern job centre, Mrs Nicholls re-trained as a beauty technician, specialising in nails and spray tans, and has now just launched her own business.

Although the exact cause of the condition is not known, Mrs Nicholls believes she developed fibromyalgia after she started “burning the candle at both ends”. She said: “I started collapsing at work and feeling very unwell.

“I thought as I had become a mum my body had not recovered very well. I couldn’t walk across the road, I couldn’t drop my children off, I got tired very easily.

“I couldn’t do many of the activities I used to do like canoeing across Scotland or family days out up the Malverns.

“I went from being very able to being almost bed-ridden.

I think it’s one of the most horrendous things that people can ever go through.

“But I was always trying to fight it and ignore it. I wasn’t able to walk, the pain got worse and I got extremely tired. I made myself very ill.”

Mrs Nicholls, who at first took drugs for the muscle pain and anti-depressants for her state of mind, said she is now off the medication and knows her limits when it comes to being active.

She attributes her recovery to the early diagnosis from Dr Guy Busher of Malvern Health Centre, who got her the medical help she needed quickly.

He transferred her to Sarah Morris in occupational health, who set her up on an eight-week support group programme which helped her change her lifestyle.

She also had sessions at the Worcester hydro pool to build up her stamina.

And once she was back on her feet, with the help of Mary Pursall and Graham Kay at the Malvern job centre, she launched Pampered by Sarah two weeks ago, which offers nails, tanning and parties for children.

“I used my previous knowledge and skills to create parties so I could still continue working with children,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting to enjoy painting nails as much as I do but it’s very relaxing.

I just feel normal again.

“Help from all those people and my husband Andy, has got me where I am now.”

Call 07930 875933 or visit pamperedbysarah.co.uk