Clayre was a full-time teacher, parent, and trampoline coach when an accident meant she became an above-knee amputee. Here, she shares her limb loss journey, and how the VV role gave her new goals and direction…
‘Just three years ago, I was an active and very busy parent and teacher, full of energy and always looking for the next adventure. A theme park fanatic, I spent at least one weekend a month getting an adrenalin fix, and I was a frequent traveller, always planning our next trip. But then, I had a trampoline accident and suddenly found myself facing amputation above the knee – my life changed dramatically across two weeks in hospital.
I imagined my life as a full-time wheelchair user
When doctors explained that I would become an above-knee amputee, I imagined my life as a full-time wheelchair user, but then they explained that I may be able to use a prosthetic limb. I researched what was out there and was ready for the challenge. After 3 intense months in rehab, I came home and began a new life as an amputee.
I first heard about the LA when attending my limb fitting centre- they held a Support and Connect hub there, and eventually, I felt able to join in. I received much-needed support and advice, and we shared our failures and wins. After a while, I saw an advert for the VV role in StepForward magazine and decided to apply.
We shared our failures and wins
By now, I was 2 years post-amputation and had just concentrated on my own rehab and had managed to reach all my goals. But it was at this point I flatlined- where would I go from here? I wondered where to turn next. I knew that it was time to reach out to others and give my time to those who deserve it. I wanted others to know they have a community to be a part of.
The VV training was a great opportunity to get to know other amputees and share our visions of supporting others while building on ourselves. All the training prepared me well for the service I now provide. It opened my eyes to what was readily available, and how much I had missed out on when recovering from my accident.
Having someone that can relate to your situation is invaluable. I am fortunate enough to have an incredible family however they will never fully understand what it feels like to be an amputee and what it is like to navigate the world I live in. The VV service provides a cushion to allow a person to be vulnerable as the judgements are lifted and empathy is increased.
I have learned so much about myself throughout the VV journey and I now have a network of people who are on a journey with me. It seems that by supporting others, I have processed my own journey and found compassion for myself that I did not know I needed.
I have learned so much about myself throughout the VV journey
I have left teaching now after 15 years, my priorities have changed, and I want to give back to the amputee community. I’m hoping to set up a travel company which would provide accessible holidays and experiences to disabled people.
Volunteering has changed me for the better. I have given time to others, yet it seems that they have helped me.