North Walsham mum becomes cage fighter

A mother-of-three who a year-and-a-half ago was so ill she could not even get out of bed has told how she is now gearing-up to be a cage fighter after finding a new lease of life.

Mary Craske, 40, from North Walsham who has suffered with ME, which causes chronic fatigue, fell ill a year-and-a-half ago after her mother, who needed round-the-clock-care, died.

She said: 'I think it was a combination of everything, my body just shut down. I was bedridden and in the end I could not talk or walk or move a muscle.

'I remember hearing carers coming into the room and I remember hearing things, but I just could not communicate with people. I was told I was dying, I was just wasting away.'

She was bed-bound for around eight months until she was offered 'lightning process' treatment - a programme designed by osteopath Phil Parker, which claims to help suffers of ME by teaching people exercises to stop the brain releasing so much adrenaline, which is believed to trigger ME.

Ms Craske, who has three children ranging in age from 16 to nine-years-old, says the process worked for her and within three days of treatment she was able to walk downstairs. She also started physiotherapy sessions as well, starting out with light exercises on an exercise bike and with weights.

She then moved onto going to the gym and from there has taken on an even bigger challenge – becoming a female cage fighter.

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'I did Judo as a child, and after the illness my self-confidence was low and I had low self esteem, I wanted to do something to build me up and build up my confidence again,' she added.

Through mutual friends she started speaking a London cage fighter, Erik Lloyd who encouraged her to go ahead with finding out about Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), popularly known as cage fighting.

She first took up the sport at the Oriental Arts Centre in Norwich and then moved onto The Regal Fight Club in North Walsham, where she currently trains five days a week for around two hours each day.

Her first fight is not cage fighting, but will be kick-boxing at the Norfolk Series Open competition being held at Stalham High School's sports centre on June 5 this year.

She was also asked to be an MMA model by top fight photographer Darren Benson, and has several pictures taken with him.

Speaking about MMA, she said; 'I just love the confidence it has given me. I feel like a different person now.'

Ms Craske also now works with the NHS as a health trainer, helping people in deprived areas with behaviour change.

She said; 'I just want others to think they can get through and look and see what can be achieved. I never thought I would be good enough to fight or to model and have my picture taken.'

The Evening News told last week how plans to conduct pioneering research in Norwich into ME are a step closer – as is securing better care for Norfolk and Suffolk's most seriously ill ME patients.

National charity Invest in ME is working towards funding research into myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) in Norwich.

At the same time NHS Norfolk, alongside NHS Suffolk and NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney, wants to harness some of the expertise the charity will bring to Norfolk to offer a better service for patients, many of whom have been bed-bound for years.

Invest in ME first unveiled its wish to conduct research in Norwich almost a year ago. It now says that almost all of the pieces are in place to allow this to start.

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