'There is life after burns' - Grandmother's message after accident leaves her with severe burns
PUBLISHED: 06:54 18 March 2019 | UPDATED: 13:17 18 March 2019
A brave grandmother from Norfolk has described the moment a split-second decision changed her life forever, causing burns over more than half of her body.
Now she wants to reach other to other survivors with a clear message - “There is life after burns”.
Dawn Abbott, of North Pickenham, near Swaffham, was on her own at home in September 2013 when an accident, which would change her life forever, first happened.
While looking for paint, she managed to spill white spirit over herself. Seconds later, still covered in the highly flammable liquid, the now 54-year-old picked up a lighter to test it to see if it still worked, ultimately causing burns that left her unrecognisable.
She does not remember calling for an ambulance or being airlifted to hospital but the mother-of-three was left with severe burns over 55pc of her body and spent the next nine months recovering at the Broomfield burns unit in Chelmsford.
That moment became the start of a journey which would see her battle excruciating pain, depression, panic attacks, and anxiety, as well as making her unable to leave her home for two years.
She said: “I did not know anything of what had happened until I came home from hospital nine months later. No one really talked about it at the time as we were all in a bubble those early days.
“I don’t remember calling for an ambulance either but I know that if I had not of done then I would not be here today.”
Mrs Abbott explained that by talking about what had happened helped to aid her recovery, but claimed that support for burns victims was non-existent in Norfolk. She praised the support of her family, including her mum, her husband John and her children, but said she was concerned others going through the same thing might not have that level of support.
She found herself turning to online groups based in Canada and America.
“When it first happened and I was looking for support groups there was nothing for me nearby,” she said. “All I wanted to do was meet people face to face and I was worried also that there are people hiding away like I did - it’s heartbreaking really.
“I just wanted that support because you know there’s people out there that want to help you, and people you can help in return.
“If it wasn’t for my family, I would still be stuck indoors. Now I want to show people that there is life after burns.
“I do not want anyone to feel they have to stay indoors hidden away because of what they look like. You do get better, your appearance does get better. I don’t see my scars as much as I used too. It’s not all doom and gloom - there are positives.”
Mrs Abbott also appeared on the latest series of ITV’s This Time Next Year and described the experience as “nerve-wracking”.
“The community has been really good. Most people do not take any notice of me to be honest and I’ve had a good response from people - even a few have recognised me from television.”
Mrs Abbott is continuing to brave the outdoors and enjoys going out with a friend or family member for company.
She also occasionally does the school run for her grandchildren after previously being unable to for three years.
- Burns survivors in the UK can now find support via the Facebook group Burns Survivors UK.