Welsh Panto Star Inspires Burns Survivors

A PANTO star has inspired fellow burns injury survivors with a simple message – it’s behind you.

Samantha Spragg suffered serious damage to her feet as an infant, leading doctors to fear she may struggle to ever walk again.

But, with the help of Morriston Hospital’s Burns Centre, and the support of its Welsh Dragon Burns Club for young burns patients, she has gone on to pursue her dream of a life treading the boards – and recently welcomed fellow club members to share her performance as Fairy Ffion in Beauty and the Beast, at the Grand Pavilion in Porthcawl.

Pictured: Samantha on stage, and with members of the Welsh Dragons Burns Club after the production of Beauty and the Beast at The Pavilion in Porthcawl. Photo Credit: Swansea Bay University Health Board.

And the 27-year-old credits the Burns Club with giving her the confidence to overcome her injuries and realise her ambitions, which she hopes will one day lead her to the West End.

Sam, from Aberfan, said: “I don’t remember my accident as I was just 18 months old, but my mother was running a bath and while she was on the landing I used a stool to climb in.

I think I was proud of what I had done and called my mum, but I hadn’t realised only the hot water was running and it didn’t immediately register until my mother started screaming.

She pulled me out and initially rushed me to the Prince Charles Hospital, but they didn’t have a Burns Centre there, so I was rushed to Morriston. My mother and father were told to prepare themselves that I may never walk again.”

For three months Sam remained in hospital and underwent a series of surgeries, and over time she began to learn to walk again. She also became one of the first junior members of the Welsh Dragon Burns Club. The club, which last year celebrated its 20th anniversary, was established to offer emotional support to youngsters with burns injuries who have been treated at the Swansea centre or its previous home in Chepstow.

Sam credits the club with giving her the confidence to go on and study at a series of stage schools, from Mark Jermin in Swansea, to Mountview in London and latterly Emil Dale in Hertfordshire.

The skills she learned have led to her second year in panto in Porthcawl, following her first appearance as Poison Ivy in last year’s production of Jack and the Beanstalk.

She said: “Musical theatre has been my life since I was little, and after what I went through, now I can’t stop dancing and prancing and doing the splits.

I’m never going to be a princess but I’ve enough character about me, and I believe in my heart my confidence comes from being in the Burns Club. They have helped me build myself up to get to do what I want to do, and I met some great friends there. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the wonderful team and nurses, and I really wanted to show the current Club members that nothing can stop us but ourselves.

I have some superficial scarring at the tops of my feet, but I am very stubborn, and because I was told I might not walk again, that made me even more determined to do so.

I was delighted when the club came along to see the production. Louise Scannell [Paediatric burns outreach lead nurse] and Karen Thomas [Play specialist] who have helped me so much over the years were there – they’ve seen me sing a song before at a Welsh Dragon Burns Club event, but never a full performance.

When I spotted them in the audience it was like a full circle moment. I could hear their laughter, which I’ve become so used to over the years.

I had organised getting some signed programmes and club members came up on the stage afterwards.

It was lovely to be able to do that for them and be able to tell them that things might not have been easy, but scars are not what define us. The Burns Club has made us believe we can do what we want to do.

I was so emotional when I came off stage, and so happy they were able to come. I hope they enjoyed their visit to Porthcawl – hopefully one day I’d like for them to see me in the West End!”

Louise Scannell added: “It was wonderful to see Sam shining like the star she is. She was always destined to be on the stage, I remember Sam and Brandon Jones always stealing the show in our camp concerts, ‘Morfa’s got Talent’.

We look forward to seeing her in the West End, I’m sure she will achieve her dream.”



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