Eight-year-old from Ammanford who lost leg in lawnmower accident learns to dance again

  • “I’m just a normal kid with a different leg"

An eight-year-old girl from Ammanford is learning to dance once again after suffering a life-changing injury.

Alys started dancing when she was three years old, following in her mother and sister’s footsteps. 

She does everything from disco to folk to street dancing - and at the beginning of last year she was chosen to represent Wales in a dance exhibition out in LA in the United States.

Alys said dancing is her passion because it makes her "feel free and happy". Credit: Family photo

But just six months ago, on Father’s Day, her life changed forever. A freak accident in the garden meant that her leg had to be amputated. 

“I was filming my sister and then the lawnmower came and I stepped back and the lawnmower grabbed my leg and then it peeled my skin”, she said.

“I had a shock and I didn’t think I’d be able to do things I used to do before the accident.”

But Alys is a determined little girl and just two weeks after the operation, she was back in the dance studio.

“At the start I felt totally different because Lauren was helping me but as time went on, I was getting better and I felt more like the normal kids.

“Now I  feel like a normal kid but just with a different leg.”

Alys was back in the dance studio just two weeks after her operation, getting used to her new prosthetic leg. Credit: Family photo

Parents Dylan and Nia are proud of how far she’s come but being told their daughter needed an amputation was a shocking moment for them.

“Obviously looking at the extent of it we knew it was a serious injury but that’s the last thing you expect to hear”, said Nia.

“It was the realisation then that we were going to have to break the news to her. How do you tell an eight-year-old who a fortnight previously was performing on the stage, winning…how do you break that to her without shattering her dreams?

“My initial thought was, we’ve still got Alys - she’s still with us. Something from somewhere came and I just thought ‘this has to be the making of her, not the breaking of her’.

“As soon as she had a wheelchair she didn’t want anybody to help her, she wanted to independently wheel it. As soon as we came out of hospital, she wanted to go straight back to dancing. She’s been the tower of strength through all of this."

At first Alys was worried that she would not be able to carry on taking part in things like dance, following her operation. Credit: Family photo

Although the journey hasn’t been easy, Dylan described his daughter as an “inspirational” girl.

He said: “She’s been an inspiration in the fact that she’s taken things in her stride. Yes, she’s been dealing with a lot of pain and yes it’s a new challenge and the small steps are big steps for her. But because she’s determined, she is getting over the hurdles.”

Dylan was driving the lawnmower when the accident happened. He says it’s a moment he’ll never forget. 

He said: “It is a moment that will stay with me forever. It’ll probably stay with her forever as well. But you can’t live in that moment and as unfortunate and as horrendous as it was, we’ve got to move forward. 

“It’s not something that I will ever forget but it is something that I’m going to have to put to one side in order to remain in a good family environment in the homeplace.”

Alys said she feels "like a normal kid but just with a different leg". Credit: Family photo

Two weeks before the accident Alys was competing in the Urdd Eisteddfod and less than a year after her life-changing injury, she’s determined to be back on stage.

“It’s hard to believe that we’re talking about this but it is looking like something that is genuinely going to be possible”, said Nia.

“Something in those few hours and days seemed unimaginable. 

“Come March time now when these Eisteddfods start…you’re always proud when your children take part in anything but I don’t think there’s going to be a dry eye in the house really when she gets up.

“But Alys will be completely oblivious to it all because she will be absolutely loving it because we know that she’ll be doing what she loves and what she was born to do.”

And Alys has an important message for others in a similar situation.

“At any skill you want to do, work hard and never give up.”

This strong little girl is determined to focus on the future. She’s hoping to continue to inspire others and of course to keep dancing.

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