A Hemel Hempstead woman who has battled with brain injuries for years, has been shortlisted for a national award for achiever of the year after helping improve the lives of others.
Nicola Evans, 36, was 13 when she was diagnosed with a cluster of abnormal vessels on her brain after her mum and her aunt were diagnosed and doctors feared it was hereditary.
Speaking to HemelNews, Nicola said: “I was diagnosed after my aunt and my mum had a bleed and the doctors thought it may be genetic, so they scanned me, and it came back I had the same abnormal vessels.
“I was initially diagnosed at the age of 13 but from then till when I was about 17, I was fine. It was when I had my first bleed that I had to start making changes and adjustments to my life.”
Nicola was an event planner but after she suffered her fifth stroke, she realised she wouldn’t be able to go back to her nine to five, Monday to Friday job.
She said: “There wasn’t any way I would be able to go back to my job as I would always have hospital appointments and it was easy for me to get tired.
“I started painting and filing my nails whilst I was in hospital rehab as I enjoyed doing it, it was a hobby, I never thought I could make a business out of it.
“During rehab, they help you get back into working and I was speaking to my physio therapist and they told me that nail painting was a possible new working adventure and it stemmed from there.
“I started researching into it, took a nail course and began practicing on my friends and family. After, I started visiting Headway and began painting the nails of people there.”
Headway is a UK-wide charity that works to improve life after brain injury by providing vital support and information services.
The charity also lobbies for better support and resources to be made available to people affected by brain injury and works to raise awareness and the devastating effects it can have.
Nicola has since been shortlisted for the Alex Richardson Achiever of the Year award for her tireless efforts to help others.
On being nominated, Nicola said: “I’m so happy, excited and humbled all in one. To be nominated for this award makes me want to inspire others to keep going.
“I understand more than anyone how low you can feel recovering from a stroke and it definitely is the smaller things you can find to help you get better but, I always think, I’m alive and some people who suffered the same as me, aren’t, so I want to keep helping as best as I can.”
The awards take place on December 6 and Nicola is attending with her mum.