FIVE years ago, NHS nurse Kathryn Pink’s life was turned upside down when she suffered two strokes and had to have brain surgery.
But the 38-year-old naval reservist has overcome all the odds to take on Somali pirates with the Royal Navy.
Kathryn, who is a part-time sailor with the Portsmouth reserve unit, HMS King Alfred, will leave Queen Alexandra Hospital in May and go to Djibouti to help supply the counter-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden for six months.
Her deployment marks the end of a five-year struggle to reclaim her life after suffering the devastating strokes.
She said: ‘I wanted to get my life back so badly because I enjoy it. It’s been extremely tough but I never gave up.
‘The driving force behind my recovery has been the NHS job and being in the reserves.’
Kathryn, who lives in Havant, has served in the logistics branch of the naval reserves since 1999 and has medals for supporting troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.
But her busy life went on hold when she fell ill.
She said: ‘It’s taken me three years to recover and another two years to get me fit and up to the same level with the reserves that I was before the stroke. I’ve had a lot of challenges but I consider myself extremely lucky.’
Kathryn is a nurse on the elderly ward at QA Hospital in Cosham. She is also studying a nursing degree with the Open University.
She said: ‘Most people do not realise what I’ve been through – only people who knew me before can see the difference.
‘I work with people every day who are recovering from a stroke and I feel very lucky that I did get my life back.’
Kathryn was a medic in the regular navy until she left and joined the NHS in 1995.
She said: ‘When I left the navy, I was married to a reservist and he was coming back from all these faraway places with so many stories.
‘He was having so much fun and I was working nights as a nurse. I didn’t really feel like I was having a life outside of work so I joined the reserves and I’ve never looked back.’
Her boss at QA Hospital, Julia Lake, said: ‘We’re all very proud of Kathryn. She’s an incredible person.’