Point of Light number 25 Melanie Davies, from South Wales, talks about the incredible journey that led to her receiving her Points of Light award. After becoming paralysed at a young age, she battled through the stigma and years of rehabilitation to become an inspiration to so many people in Wales and beyond. Melanie set up TREAT Trust Wales (Treatment, Rehabilitation, Exercise and Therapy) to improve the wellbeing of communities in South Wales. Her long term goal is to raise enough money to create a world-class rehabilitation centre in Swansea.
So you’ve had a bit of a marathon journey to get here!
MD: You could say that! I was paralysed from the chest down in a motorbike accident at the age of 15. As you can imagine this was a pretty tough hit for a young girl. There was pretty much no rehabilitation available, and no provision for me at my old school. It was only the kindness of a family friend at the local Catholic school that allowed me to finish my education.
So at what stage did the idea for TREAT come about?
MD: I was lucky enough to go to RAF Chessington for physical rehab, being put through my paces alongside service men and women. It was here I really saw the benefits of people from all different walks of life entering rehab together. The big army boys saw this little Welsh girl in a wheelchair busting a gut to get stronger, and it motivated them to do better. And vice versa; it was inspirational for me to see so many other people going through the same painful rehab. It was here that I first thought about TREAT – a rehabilitation centre for everyone.
And you’ve been working on TREAT ever since?
MD: Well, not quite. This was back in 1982, and after my successful time at RAF Chessington I travelled to and from the US over about twelve years, living there for up to two years at a time, pursuing various dreams. I really loved my time there. But I eventually moved back to Wales in 1995 to be close to family and friends.
Becoming a Paralympic champion in the process as well!
MD: Well, that’s a bit of a tall tale that – I always get embarrassed about that. Truth be told, I very nearly refused to take part, and in the end, out of three competitors, I came third by a hefty margin. I think my javelin actually landed behind me at one point!
Ok, so we’ll move on swiftly then… there were further twists in store for you after this, weren’t there?
MD: Yes indeed. The low point was being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000. But I also ended up getting married! I spent the first 40 years of my life saying that was something that did not appeal to me in the slightest, and then I ended up getting married to the same surgeon who’d treated me after my motorbike crash all those years ago! Mike and I have been happily married for 12 years now, and we’ve worked side by side to make TREAT happen.
And you’ve got a number of high profile patrons as well
MD: Yes, we’ve been very lucky. Mike was surgeon for Neath and the Welsh u18 &19 rugby team, so we’ve managed to get quite a few of those boys on board. Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson is a patron and a great friend, Rob Brydon and Michael Sheen are so dedicated to us, and Paul Potts is our current President.
A final word on your Point of Light award?
MD: The award was fantastic for us, it opened so many doors. It led to so much media attention, and we were all over social media. I even had a mini radio career, and appeared on the TV programme Never Say Never. We’ve come so far in the last ten years, and becoming a Point of Light has just helped get us even closer to having our finished rehabilitation centre. It’s been a dream for a long time, but it is so close to becoming a reality!
The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.Volunteer now