A ballet dancer who was told he may never walk again following a brutal street assault is returning to dancing – after making a miraculous recovery.
Jack Widdowson, 19, suffered serious spinal injuries after an attack as he walked home from a night out in Cardiff.
Doctors told Jack he may never walk again – let alone dance – after he dislocated his neck in the middle of the cervical spine.
But Jack, from Farmborough, Somerset, has defied medical expectations and, just eight months later, is preparing to take to the stage this Friday at a charity gala.
Dr Mary Evelyn, of London Contemporary Dance School, added: “He’s just so focused and determined. He’s a deeply reflective dancer.
“It would have been dreadful if it had happened to anybody, but for him with his potential as a dancer to suddenly be looking at a situation where he may not have got out of his hospital bed ever again – it was terrible, absolutely terrible.
“He may not have lived, he may not have walked, but now we’re looking at him in the studio again, which is just extraordinary.”
Jack, who survived bacterial meningitis three years ago, had just joined the Bern Ballet Dance Company from the London Contemporary Dance School when he was attacked.
He started dance lessons again in mid March at the Tring Park School of Performing Arts, Hertfordshire, and took a number of different classes to help rebuild his fine motor co-ordination, movement flow and technique in addition to strength and stamina.
Jack will be dancing on Friday at Tring in a fundraising event for Dance Again, a charity set up by the Widdowsons to help dancers recover from serious injury.
He said: “I absolutely can’t wait for the performance. Being back on the stage is obviously what I want to do.
“As a dancer your whole world could be turned upside down if you thought you might never be able to perform again.
“I feel very lucky that both of my parents understood how important it was to me to recover fully from this injury and they were great at keeping me motivated.
“My family’s support has been monumental.”
The selfless dancer has now launched a foundation to help talented dancers return to the stage after career-threatening injury.
Dance Again is being spearheaded by Jack’s dad, Dr Julian Widdowson, head of sports medicine at Bath Rugby and CircleBath Hospital, and already has the backing of a network of specialist therapists, sports physicians and surgeons across the UK.