Story 35

Living life to the full

When I first came to Douglas House in the 1970s, I decided that nothing was going to stop me from living life to the full. I’ve always wanted to show what disabled people can achieve.

Ann Welland with dance partner Geoffrey White

Soon after arriving, I entered Miss Torbay 1974 at the age of 31. There was a big article in the local paper as I was the first of many contestants to enter that year. I was also the first ever wheelchair user and made the finals. (The strapline of the article reads ‘Wheelchair Girl Aims to Be Queen’!)

In 1979 I won the National Wheelchair Dancing Finals with my dance partner and fellow resident, Geoffrey White. Afterwards we got to meet Leonard Cheshire himself.

In the mid-1990s I moved into a flat with my partner, Phil. We then travelled the world, jetting off to the US, Kuala Lumpur and Australia.

In 2012 I returned to Douglas House. Now, this centenary year has brought great memories for me. I know I’ll never forget winning the wheelchair dancing title or meeting Leonard Cheshire.

I met Leonard Cheshire on a few occasions. He was a fantastic man and he had a lot of time for people. It was wonderful.

I decided that nothing was going to stop me from living life to the full. I’ve always wanted to show what disabled people can achieve.