Maria lands Olympics job—after coma left her disabled and jobless 29 years

Maria Cheeseman thought her life was all but over. A bad road accident left her in a coma for three months and loss of memory—she couldn’t even recognise her husband or three children.

Her marriage ended and she lost everything over the years, eventually sleeping rough on the streets.

But Maria, at 60, is no longer on the scrapheap of life, penniless and unemployed, after landing a job at next summer’s Olympics.

She told her story at The East London Community Organisation’s 15th annual assembly at a packed Troxy venue in Stepney.

Maria is among the first 50 men and women from the five Olympic ‘host’ boroughs to be offered work during the Games.

They were all presented with ‘London Citizen’ certificates by Olympics organising chairman Lord Seb Coe at the packed assembly earlier this month, where Maria gave her testimony about her lifelong dream of a career.

“You might think to look at me that I’m an ordinary grandma,” she said.

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“I was an active and happy mother 29 years ago when I was crossing the road and was hit by a car.

“The accident cost me my family and memory. I didn’t recognise my husband or children—my life fell apart.”

She was left permanently paralised down one side and struggled for years, unable to find work.

Maria hit rock bottom at the age of 57, she recalls, sleeping rough on the streets. She would sit in shopping centres until midnight, then head to the park to make her bed.

That was until Providence Row’s Dellow homeless centre in Spitalfields took her in.

“I volunteered to wash dishes and sit on reception at the centre that helped me,” Maria recalls.

“Then I found out about an Olympic jobs registration event—it was fantastic.

“I never thought I could work again.

“My disabilities affect me a lot—but they don’t affect my ability to dream.”

Maria now has her own home in Stepney Green and prospect of a career.

She has a job at the 2012 Games in hospitality and catering—after 29 years without work, without hope.