Bouncing Back: Priceless Independence for Injured Mother of Two after Breaking her Back in Rugby Accident
A family from Wokingham were able to buy their own home and modify it to be fully accessible – including the installation of a Stiltz Trio+ Homelift – after mother of two, Dani suffered a catastrophic injury playing rugby in 2017.
Dani Watts, 31, took up rugby at the age of 25 and instantly fell in love with the sport. Two years later during a match for Reading-based club Rams RFC, Dani’s back was broken during a tackle which left her with a T10 spinal injury, losing the use of her legs. Dani, who has two children, Lillie-Rose (nine) and Freddie (seven) spent six months in hospital and now uses a manual wheelchair. Dani suffers with severe nerve pain but has worked extremely hard to get her life back on track.
Dani said: “It has been a very difficult time and I just want the ability to carry out ‘normal’ everyday tasks for my family and to get back to work. I have never known life any other way and I’ve always had a busy work life. Before retraining to becoming a personal trainer (PT), I was a police officer. I have two young children to look after and life is pretty hectic!”
Building a New Home
The RFU Injured Players Foundation has played a huge part in Dani’s life since her injury. They donated £246,000 towards her new accessible home, she also received additional £140K from Rams RFU and £100K from a kind-hearted PT client. “You don’t know what charity is until you are on the receiving end. It was the most amazing example of humanity I have ever seen; people do actually care”. With the financial support received, Dani and her family were able to buy their own home and convert it, so it was fully wheelchair accessible.
Life Before Stiltz
“Before we had the Stiltz Homelift fitted, my partner Pete had to give me a piggyback upstairs! Not only is this bad for his health, but it’s extremely undignified for me. We did this for nine months until our Stiltz Homelift was installed in January 2019 and it has totally changed my life.
I can go to bed when I like, have a bath when I like… my independence is my life and that’s what my Stiltz Homelift has given me. Now I can carry out normal tasks like taking the washing upstairs, the kids use the homelift to move the vacuum, we fill it with presents on our children’s birthdays and our dog Bailey loves it! I can now do the ‘normal’ things anyone would do with their family”.
My Stiltz Homelift
Dani was conscious her adapted home remained safe for her children and looked contemporary and stylish. “Being an able-bodied person going into the world of disability, I didn’t want to be constantly reminded I was disabled. I was already getting used to the fact I had to use a wheelchair and I didn’t want my home to look adapted. Not only that, this is our family home where our children will grow up. I couldn’t risk a stairlift because of the space they take up, I worried the children would trip. Also, we have talked about having another baby, so a homelift would be essential for me to safely move between floors”.
The Trio+ Homelift by disabled access lift specialist Stiltz was installed in the dining room and goes directly to the bedroom. “I don’t know what I would do without the lift. Independence is such a fundamental need, no one should feel like a burden to anyone else. And not only that, it looks great! The silver and grey go really well with my colour scheme and sometimes people don’t even notice it’s there. Not only that, it’s added value to the house”.
Dani commented on the Stiltz service: “From the very first Stiltz visit, I did not feel sold to. They weren’t pushy at all, they just gave us all the information we needed to make our own decision. The installation process was so smooth, we were away in Ireland, but I was able to watch the guys on our cameras. The builders built a new wall which looked amazing and the lift was installed in just a day. The lift looks smart and modern and its really quiet… it runs off a plug just like any other domestic appliance! Another lift company we saw used hydraulics which we really didn’t want”.
Support from RFU Injured Players Foundation
To thank the RFU IPF for all their support, Dani is aiming to raise £10,000 in the 2020 London Marathon where both her and partner Pete will compete in a wheelchair. Before this Dani has raised £2.5K in the London Landmarks 10K and climbed Snowdon to raise money for spinal injury charity, Back Up Trust.
Looking to the future…
It’s taken two years, but Dani is getting her career as a PT back on track. She has several clients and is about to start working with Rams RFU providing group strengthening classes which can help players avoid injury. She is heavily involved with the club and attends every home game.
“Pete plays for the men’s team and both of my children joined the Junior Rams, even after my injury. At first my daughter was nervous, but sport is such a huge part of our lives, and now they love it as much as I do, which is something I am hugely proud of. My plan is to get my degree show my children what is possible when you have independence and determination”.