UWE Bristol student still dancing after catastrophic accident thanks to student sports club

Issue date: 17 July 2012

Watch Annabelle dancing here

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Reported by Daily Mail and Bristol 24/7

A cycling accident that resulted in her leg being amputated has not stopped inspirational UWE Bristol law student, dancer and cheerleader, Annabelle Turner from completing her degree with a 2:1 just eight months later.

Annabelle has also continued to perform with her dance squad as well as securing a full time post as Vice President of Societies and Communications sabbatical officer at the UWE Students Union. She will graduate on 23 July before taking up the hard won position where she was voted in with over 1000 votes from fellow students. She was also awarded the UWE Olympic Spirit of the Year Award with a prize of a ticket to the Olympics in recognition of her contributions to her sport teams this year despite her accident.

In December 2011 things were looking bleak for Annabelle; she was cycling to her regular dance class at the Bristol College of Dancing when she was involved in a road accident resulting in a serious leg injury and amputation.

Annabelle explains what happened on the 9 December, a day that is etched into her memory.

"I was at the traffic lights with a lorry immediately behind me and before I knew it I was sandwiched between a line of parked cars on my left and the lorry on my right. It was one of those 'life flashing before your eyes moments' and then I was knocked from my bike by the lorry and run over.

"Once the paramedics arrived on the scene I lost consciousness and the next thing I knew I was waking up in a hospital bed to discover that my leg had been amputated. As a dancer and cheerleader this is probably the worst thing that could happen to me."

By mid January 2012 just weeks after suffering such a major setback that would have defeated many people, Annabelle was back at university and determined to complete her final semester.

When asked about her resilience and determination she said, "I didn't want to be stuck at home thinking about the accident and I wanted to continue to be part of my dance and cheerleading squads.

"My tutors told me that I could defer my degree and that I could finish it during the following year. I know they had my best interest at heart but I had already completed half of the year and just wanted to get on with it.

"It was tough at first and very tiring walking on crutches and there were obviously a lot of emotions that came with this."

Annabelle says that her involvement in two sports clubs at UWE Bristol has been crucial in helping her to learn how to live with the aftermath of the cycling accident. When she returned to her sports clubs back in January, despite not being able to part-take competitively she still attended all rehearsals and training sessions, helping to coach her cheer squad and critiquing dance routines.

Annabelle continues, “Despite the troubles of getting around on crutches I was still able to choreograph and perform a dance routine on one leg for our annual dance showcase.

"It was really important for me to still be a part of the squads and it shows just how much a sports team at university can impact on your life and help you through something so traumatic.

"The accident also gave me the determination to apply for a sabbatical job managing the societies and communications for the Student Union at UWE. I had great backing and support from both of the sports teams I belong to and many others around UWE. I got over 1000 votes from fellow students enabling me to go straight into a full time job even before graduating."

After the sabbatical year Annabelle plans to do a postgraduate Legal Practice Course, "I am hoping to do my LPC postgraduate course following the sabbatical year. My ambition is to pursue a successful career in law but I'm undecided what to specialise in at this stage.

"I graduate on 23 July with a 2:1 in my LLB Law Degree. My achievements over the last six months are a clear display of how university can change your life and help you through something that you thought was impossible. My tutors gave me much support through this difficult time and helped me to complete my degree."

UWE Bristol Law Lecturer, Rachel Fenton said, “Annabelle has been a truly inspirational student and it has been fantastic to see her not only return to University to complete her degree but also to graduate so well and continue to contribute so much to University life.”

Chris White, President of the UWE Cheerleading Squad, said, “Annabelle is amazing. I saw her in hospital just a week after her accident and she was sat up in bed with her hair and make up done, she's a performer through and through. That has been her positive attitude since day one. She's attended every fitness and training class for cheerleading, helped with the coaching and is still the fittest member of the squad. She's an inspiration to me and the rest of the squad.”

So what has Annabelle learned from this traumatic experience so far? She says, "If you love something nothing will get in your way of doing it.

"I can honestly say that without my dance and cheerleading squads I would not be where I am today and I don't think I could have got through this without the great support that they gave me.

"It felt amazing that I could still dance and that I was still able to do that. I am a dancer, I always have been and I always will be and nothing can stop that."

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