Tragedy turns to triumph

Marny Cringle’s life is an inspirational story of determination and faith overcoming devastating adversity. She suffered horrific injuries after being dragged under a train in the London Underground, had her life support turned off, a leg amputated due to the accident and then developed the killer brain infection meningitis.

She lived, but Marny was told she would never work and never drive, and would be limited in what she could do in life.

Determined to reinforce the message to her students that they “can do anything”, Patricia Hales, principal of Marny’s former school — St Joseph’s College at Lochinvar — invited Marny to share her story.

In sharing that story the East Maitland local has found her true purpose. Marny inspires people to get the most out of their lives by helping them discover their hidden power and by teaching them to maintain a positive attitude when challenges arise.

Which Catholic school/s did you attend?

Infants at Sacred Heart, Campbells Hill. The Monte Pio orphanage was next door.

Primary at St Paul’s, Rutherford. While at primary school I was attending Lochinvar Convent for violin lessons. My first violin teacher was Mother Pauline.

High school at Lochinvar Convent, now known as St Joseph’s College.

Why did your parents choose Catholic school/s for you?

Dad was Catholic and Mum converted to Catholicism when they were married. Dad was involved in a car accident when I was 20 months old and needed 24-hour care for the remainder of his life. We moved to the Maitland area where Mum had grown up. Nan was a great support for Mum during this time.

Has your outlook on life changed since the accident in London in 1996?

Despite the multiple challenges I have been forced to deal with following my accident, I have come to realise that although my course through life has been altered, I still have the ability to choose the future I want for myself. If you are looking for control over your life, it’s closer than you think.

You can achieve your goals. Failure is not an end result. It is an opportunity to rethink how you approach your goals.

Embrace change. You can’t control change, but you can control how you react to it.

Recognise your wins. It’s easy to overlook the small wins, but together they make the biggest difference.

As a qualified nurse, did your occupation assist you in your recovery?

That would certainly have contributed, but what mainly assisted in my recovery was my determination to regain normality and independence.  When I regained consciousness I started setting goals for myself, and developing strategies to ensure I achieved them.

I got to where I am today mainly through determination and drive to get the most I possibly can out of life. I try to focus on what is going well for me, rather than the negative aspects.

Doctors said you wouldn’t work or drive again. But you achieved your main goals of living independently (in nine months), working (in two years), and walking on both legs (in 16 years). What was your drive?

To get the most I possibly could out of my second chance at life. Self-belief and a positive attitude definitely played a strong role in helping me recover.

Is faith a big part of your life? If yes, how has it helped?

Faith has been an ongoing part of my life and has contributed to my development over the years.  I have also come into contact with some amazing people and have made some lifelong friendships. 

After my accident I had multiple injuries, and professionals were doubtful of my recovery.  The immense support I had from the Catholic Diocese and Maitland community and friends, where for example, they raised funds to assist with my medical expenses, provided me with more drive and determination to overcome my challenges.  Because people gave and supported me so much, I wanted to show them that their efforts were certainly not wasted and they all made a significant impact to the quality of my life.

Seeded Australia’s No. 1 in wheelchair tennis, representing NSW in swimming and dressage, an author, inspirational speaker. What’s next for Marny Cringle?

I am now working towards becoming an inspirational speaker to help others realise their own strengths. We all have an enormous amount of hidden power and potential within us, and life is so good when we tap in to that and discover just what we can do.

What advice would you give individuals facing physical and emotional challenges?

We all have different challenges throughout our life but sometimes you have to make sacrifices to put your dreams to where you want them to be.

Think thoughts of success, go confidently in the direction of your dreams and know that you have what it takes.  Believe in yourself, you are capable of more than you know.


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Brittany Gonzalez

Brittany Gonzalez is a Marketing and Communications Co-ordinator for Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

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