Nurse with horror pub heater burns makes miracle recovery with bodybuilding

A former nurse who suffered horrendous burns from an exploding pub heater, has made a miraculous recovery thanks to bodybuilding.

Ashleigh Charlesworth, 29, has transformed herself in the gym after spending weeks on a ventilator in hospital receiving treatment to her face, hands and chest.

Refusing to let her injuries hold her back, Ashleigh vowed to pursue her dream of becoming a bodybuilder which has boosted her confidence as well as her muscles, she says.

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Earlier this month, Ashleigh from Sudbury, Suffolk, wowed crowds at a competition in Hull, Yorkshire, where she proudly flaunted her ripped physique, burns and all.

"I felt nervous and scared but I am extremely proud of myself," she said following the event.

Ashleigh and her cousin April Charlesworth were celebrating April's 28th birthday when a pub heater exploded in a beer garden in Great Cornard, Suffolk, on April 24, 2021.

They were both hospitalised when someone threw alcohol onto the pub heater causing a huge fireball.

A man has since been charged with two counts of wounding or inflicting grievous bodily harm without intent, who is due to appear in court in April 2023.

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Ashley entered her first body building competition donning a 'girl on fire' themed bikini to celebrate her bounce back to health.

Ashleigh said: "Taking part in the show has definitely given me more confidence in myself and my capabilities.

"My bikini was inspired by the 'girl on fire' vibe and that's why it went from red into orange.

"I wanted to encompass it within the show as it's a part of me."

Ashleigh said she was initially self-conscious of her injuries but returned to the gym five weeks later and is now comfortable with her scars.

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She said: "I'm more appreciative of my skin and I'm not afraid to show off my scars.

"Now people who look at me and I'll be like 'yeah, I've got a scar, do you want to talk about it?''

She dreamed of competing before the fire and since then has been able to make that dream a reality.

She contacted the bodybuilding organisation Physical Culture Association, tanning and makeup professionals before the competition in Hull, Yorkshire, this November to let them know about her scars.

She said: "I wanted to make them aware I had burns so they weren't shocked when they saw me.

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"They were so good at reassuring me and calming me down and the make-up artist did such an amazing job.

"I was concerned that other competitors would judge me or look at me funny, but what I realised was that it was my own insecurities.

"The girls that knew about the burns were so reassuring to me and helped me right up until stepping on that stage and I feel privileged to have come away with some new friends in the competing world."

Ashleigh is now unable to work as a nurse due to her hand injuries so works for the NHS 111 service.


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