Published: 06:00, 02 May 2021
One Wednesday evening when she was getting ready to leave work, teacher Kate Hart Dyke suffered a bleed on the brain and woke up in hospital two weeks later having been in a coma.
What started as a headache in a staff meeting turned into a brain haemorrhage which left Mrs Hart Dyke, who worked in Horsmonden Primary School, needing extensive physio and changed her life forever.
The 56-year-old said: "I went to get the school rabbit in and when I came back I was sick and that’s the last thing I remember.
"The next thing I knew I was waking up in ITU in Kings College Hospital in London 16 days later."
Doctors say Mrs Hart Dyke suffered a rupture of the arteriovenous malformation (AVM) which is a tangle of abnormal blood vessels connecting arteries and veins in the brain.
A month later, surgeons performed an 18 hour long operation to remove the AVM and Mrs Hart Dyke was temporarily left needing a wheelchair.
Before the medical episode, Mrs Hart Dyke had just accepted a new job as an assistant principal at a nearby school, a role she had spent her career working towards.
But the haemorrhage left her with blurred vision and means she will never be able to teach in a classroom or drive again.
Instead of starting a new job, she was starting a long road of recovery.
It was during this time, when she was coming to terms with the changes in her life, Mrs Hart Dyke felt inspired to write a work of fiction loosely based on her experience in a coma to raise money for a charity which supported her through her treatment.
Titled 'The Seat's Down Dear', the book is about a woman called Rosie who stumbles across a photo on social media that unlocks a secret to what happened to her while she was in a hospital 20 years ago.
All the money raised from this book's sale goes to The Stroke Association.
Now, having made almost an entire recovery, Mrs Hart Dyke is once again hoping to raise money for a different charity through a new book but this time she has teamed up with 21 inspiring youngsters.
After coming to terms with the fact she would never be able to teach in a school again, a year after coming out of hospital, Mrs Hart Dyke instead turned to tutoring so she could continue the job she wasn't ready to give up.
From there she built up a network and now teaches 45 pupils from across age groups at discounted rates to tackle the financial inequality often associated with education.
She said: "I originally started tutoring for free just to see if I could do it and I loved it.
"I’m really out there to help kids. Rich children usually get the best help and I want to put that right."
Then when the pandemic began to take hold, instead of giving up, she moved lessons online and continued to support youngsters academically through the lockdowns.
While schools were closed and parents were faced with the daunting prospect of homeschooling, Mrs Hart Dyke started teaching for 10 hours on Zoom each day so her pupils didn't fall behind.
It was through the pandemic she was inspired to take on a second a charitable venture.
While some of her pupils were reading Anthony Browne's 'Through The Magic Mirror', a book about a boy whose life is transformed when he looks through magic glass, Mrs Hart Dyke tasked the pupils with coming up with a short story each to be published in a book about lockdown.
She said: "I asked the younger pupils to look out their windows and tell me what they saw.
"For example, one of the boys saw an old car. Then when he wrote his story it turned into a race car which took him on a journey through the desert.
"It provides a real insight into how children have viewed the lockdown and I’d love to see it in libraries up and down the country."
All together there are 21 stories which capture a snapshot of the pupils' imaginations during a time when their worlds lacked colour.
Jessica Drake, 20, a self taught artist who goes to college in Tonbridge has offered to bring the stories alive with illustrations and now Mrs Hart Dyke is on the search for a publisher.
With charities suffering financially through the hardship, she has decided to donate 100% of the profits to Tunbridge Wells Welcomes Refugees, a charity which continues to support four of her pupils.
The organisation aims to mentor refugees by helping them access much needed additional support in areas such as learning English, accessing health, and integrating into the local community.
Having been inspired by her pupils, Mrs Hart Dyke says even if she could return to the classroom, she would continue teaching from home so she can support those who might otherwise struggle to access opportunities because of money or their post code.
To find out more about her work, click here.