A FIREFIGHTER who survived a serious accident when a microlight aircraft crashed during a flying lesson has been nominated for a prestigious award.

Mum-of-one Helen Jones was left with serious injuries to her back and her right leg after the accident in 2011, but despite surgeons’ concerns she learned to walk again — and her determination and courage inspired judges to shortlist her for Beneficiary of Courage in this year’s Spirit of Fire Awards.

It has not been an easy journey for Mrs Jones, who still suffers paralysis in her lower right leg and had to give up her job as a firefighter at Bolton North.

But with the support of her husband Steve, who is also a firefighter, she has returned to work as a crewing officer at Bolton Central.

The annual awards, hosted by the Firefighters’ Charity, recognise acts of selfless sacrifice within the fire and rescue community and members of the general public who have shown outstanding courage when confronted with a distressing fire or rescue situation.

Mrs Jones, aged 29, said: “I’m really honoured to be nominated, I couldn’t believe it. It was a big shock. I knew nothing about it so it was such a nice surprise.

“It has been a difficult few years — I spent seven weeks in Hope hospital and then three months in Southport Spinal Unit where I had to learn to walk again.

“I was told I might never walk again but I was determined to.

“The people around me have been a great support — especially my husband and my work colleagues who have really looked after me.

“I have been going to the gym a lot to keep my fitness up but unfortunately my injuries have prevented me from going back to working as a firefighter.

“Now I work as a crewing officer. I’m really pleased that I was able to stay on and continue to work in the fire service.”

Also nominated under the Adult Hero category are Paul Tunnah and Grant Blears, who risked their lives to save Antony Breeze in August, 2012, who died by setting himself on fire in Bolton after getting into debt with payday loan companies.

In an attempt to save Mr Breeze’s life, Mr Tunnah suffered serious burns, and although he made a full recovery he will be scarred for the rest of his life.

The award ceremony will be held at London’s Park Plaza Westminster on May 16.