Ako – Our Very Own Wonderous Woman

Climbing accident recovery woman crosses finish line

Celebrating An Amazing Woman – Ako Shillitoe

As International Women’s Day arrives again, we enjoy the chance to celebrate the spirit and resilience embodied by women. One of the most inspirational women to us, though, is pretty much as close to home as it gets: our very own Ako, Tim’s wife.

Among the many amazing stories of women’s strength and courage, Ako’s is definitely right up there.  Her physical and emotional journey stands out as a testament to the power of courage, determination and hope.


Climbing Accident

In March 2016, Ako, Tim and their 2-year-old son visited Mallorca for a climbing holiday with friends.  As avid climbers, both Ako and Tim regularly spent their free time scaling various rock faces around the world.  Little did they know that this particular trip would alter the course of Ako’s life forever.

What began as a routine warm-up climb ended in a tragic accident when Ako fell from a height of 25 metres due to a technical error.  The impact left her with severe head injuries, a broken leg and a broken spine and shoulders.  In fact, for a time, medical professionals held little hope for Ako’s survival – her life was hanging in the balance.


Critical Care

After three weeks in critical care in Spain, experts decided it was safe enough for Ako to be flown back to England.  She spent the next eight weeks at Leeds LGI’s Trauma Unit, undergoing numerous surgeries and facing a daunting array of physical and psychological challenges.

She has undoubtedly endured more pain, frustration, and doubt on her road to recovery than most of us ever experience. Despite this, and despite the overwhelming physical odds stacked against her, Ako refused point-blank to surrender and instead summoned the strength to persevere. Here Ako tells us more.


Climbing Accident Recovery

Over the ensuing years, Ako’s recovery has been nothing short of amazing. She’s gone from regaining the simple power of movement we all take for granted to returning triumphantly to her beloved passion for rock climbing.  She’s steadily and impressively reclaimed her life, explaining, “It took three years for my leg fracture to heal.  Eventually I was able to ride my bike again and then start running.”

Little wonder, then, that Ako stands today as a beacon of inspiration to all of us at Wood & Wire: a living testament to the resilience of the human spirit.  Never one to take the easy path though, she’s gone one better than mere resilience.


Reclaiming Her Life

Using her gratitude and compassion as a force for good, in 2022 Ako trained for a triathlon to raise funds for Day One Trauma Support: an organization dedicated to helping individuals rebuild their lives after major physical trauma. The following year she qualified as a climbing instructor and has since become quite partial to ticking off Wainwrights with Tim, their son and Willow the dog.

“I hope my story will give some hope to others who have experienced life-changing injuries.” Ako says.

So, as we commemorate International Women’s Day, let’s celebrate the remarkable strength and courage of Ako and women like her. Those whose incredible stories illuminate the path of resilience and renewal, providing everyday inspiration for us all.