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A YEI reader story: From a hotelier to life in a wheelchair

Posted By Marilynh / January 11, 2017 / 3 Comments

Run while you can – the inspiring story of a YEI reader who did not give up…


Having matriculated at 17 in 1971 , I then chose the hotel industry as a career. The “Holiday Inn” took a chance and trained me from the front of house to the position of food and beverage manager- the first female in South Africa.  I was with them for 15 years, followed by my appointment with Sun International as group personnel manager.  In 1982 I was appointed General Manager of City Lodge in Sandton, Gauteng, another first for a female in a corporate situation.


Sally Brownie and her book “Run while you can”


My problems, health-wise, started in 1982 with my first brain haemorrhage, followed by another one in 1987.  Both open-brain surgeries left me able to walk with a stick and I still managed to run the hotel.  Albeit, my speech was affected – I talked and still do, as if I had too much wine!! My writing was also affected, but I got by.  However, in 1993, the “biggie” aneurysm at the base of my brain stem occurred.  The procedure I needed was still in its infancy in South Africa and I was advised not to be a “guinea-pig”, but to go to Germany as soon as possible.  Within two weeks, I had organised the trip.  During the radiation/laser treatment  more brain cells were damaged, but that only became evident in two to three months down the line, by which time I was back in South Africa.    I could not walk!   My brain knew what to do, but the message did not get through!

I went through three months of rehabilitation in the Barney Hurwitz hospital in Gauteng, and thereafter I had to use a wheelchair. I attended physio and speech therapy at “Headway” in Johannesburg, and also attended Stroke Aid, where I attended speech therapy, occupational and physio sessions over a period of 2 years.

I retired at the age of 42 from “City Lodge” – after 10 years. You won’t find a general manager of a hotel in a wheelchair!

I have been living at Bridgewater Manor in Somerset West for the last 12 years and I am on the committee for SAARP (South African Association for Retired Persons) – responsible for finding various speakers for our monthly meetings.

I leave you with my personal philosophy of Run while you can.    These words have been my mantra since 1993.


Micro-lighting over the Helderberg mountains in Stellenbosch

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  • Priscilla Mothapo
    October 4, 2018 at 6:31 am

    i would like to communicate with Sally Brownie at her earliest convenience. I’m nearing retirement at the very facility that she had her rehabilitation. My contact numbers are 011 489 1249 / 079 212 4038 – Priscilla Mothapo- Case Manager@Netcare Rehabilitation Hospital in Aucklandpark

    • Marilynh
      October 23, 2018 at 2:02 pm

      Dear Priscilla

      Your message has been sent to Sally Brownie.


  • Sally Brownie
    October 23, 2018 at 3:13 pm

    Marilyn thank you I will reply direct to Priscilla.
    I have written another booklet “If these 4 wheels could talk!” I did not have published as an E book it just ‘flew’ off the shelves!
    Perhaps YE would in 2019 like to address SAARP HELDERBERG?

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