A MOTHER from Needingworth has told of the moment she was bitten by a highly venomous Ottoman viper while on holiday.

Laura Brasher, 46, of Park View, was in Turkey with her husband and their four children when the poisonous snake bit her leg.

Despite the attack happening almost two months ago, Mrs Brasher, a special needs co-ordinator at St Ivo School, is still unable to walk and now relies on a wheelchair borrowed from the Red Cross in St Neots.

It was the last night of the Brasher family holiday in Dalyan, when Mrs Brasher encountered the venomous snake.

"I had been souvenir shopping with my two daughters and a friend," she recalled. "We were heading back to the villa before going out for dinner. It was about 8.30 at night and was getting dark but we could make out the shape of a metre-long snake sliding towards us along the road.

"I have a phobia of snakes - I even shriek when I see them on TV - so obviously I was terrified. We ran back in the other direction and screamed and shouted to try and scare it off. Eventually we calmed down and the snake seemed to have disappeared, so we started back towards the villa, but I hadn't taken more than five steps when my daughter's friend started screaming 'SNAKE! SNAKE!' I leapt up to try and get away, but suddenly I felt unbearable pain in my calf."

Mrs Brasher's husband took her to hospital, where they told she had been bitten by an Ottoman viper.

"I was feeling so much pain and fear that I didn't want to believe it," she said. "It took 48 hours before I could look at my swollen leg because I was struggling to take in the news that I'd been bitten by a snake. The medical team were great - snake bites were a rarity for them but they knew how to deal with it."

On her return home, her GP took advice from the Centre for Tropical Diseases in Liverpool and referred her to Addenbrooke's Hospital for checks. Tests revealed a blood clot, which would slow Mrs Brasher's recovery further, and she was suffering from painful swelling which kept her from walking.

The hospital told Mrs Brasher about the Red Cross service.

"I think the Red Cross medical equipment service is absolutely fantastic," she said. "I'm very grateful to the whole service team who provide this equipment when people like me find themselves in need - I have no idea where else I could have got a wheelchair. It's the kind of thing you don't give much thought to when you're fit and able, but when you have an experience like mine you quickly appreciate these local services which can make such a huge difference."

INFORMATION: For more information about the Red Cross medical equipment service in St Neots, please call 01480 213376 on Monday, Wednesday or Friday between 11am and 3pm.