Heartbreaking reason Alton Towers crash victim hated looking in mirror afterward
Pulling on a pair of strappy heels and a festive red dress, Vicky Balch is glowing with confidence.
Three-and-a-half years on from the Alton Towers crash that led to the loss of her right leg, the 23-year-old is in high spirits.
Despite lingering pain and emotional trauma, Vicky is thrilled to reveal her new £60,000 prosthetic limb which means she can finally slip on a pair of heels again this Christmas.
She says: “This is the final puzzle piece for me. It’s amazing to feel like a sexy, feminine woman again.
“It’s massively improved my confidence and lifted my spirits. This leg has made me feel like myself again.
“I can even paint the toenails. I’ve already bought five new pairs of shoes.
‘I can finally ask my friends to give me back the ones I gave away after my accident.”
The new leg has a special rotating heel that can be angled for higher shoes. It comes with a bespoke flower design – which Vicky says fits her “girlie, feminine” personality – and a sparkly pink cover.
Her leg was amputated after she and 15 other riders were hurt in the 2015 Smiler rollercoaster crash.
Their vehicle smashed into an empty carriage on the track. Alton Towers owner Merlin Attractions was fined £5million for safety breaches.
Vicky, meanwhile, suffers pain on a daily basis and may need a tenth operation, to replace metal-work in her leg.
At times she has been so low that she felt life wasn’t worth living – and even contemplated ending it all. So understandably, she enjoys the good times as they come along.
And there’s another reason to be happy – she’s moved in with year-long boyfriend Dino Manciocchi, 25.
He is Director of Valoriani UK pizza oven firm and they live in Preston with Dax the miniature dachshund and French bulldog Bear.
Vicky says: “Dino is my best friend Christine’s brother. She reintroduced us at my 21st birthday party and it all started from there.
“It’s going really well, I’m really happy. But it must be hard for him when I have my bad days. He handles it so well.
“He helps me pick most of my outfits. He’s a manly man, but he has a good eye.”
Vicky trained as a beautician at university and now has her own firm – Victoria Jayne Beauty.
Before the accident, she used to proudly display her 100 pairs of heels at home. But after, she hid them in her garage or gave them to pals.
Finding the courage to dress up again was a daunting affair.
Vicky adds: “I remember when it first hit me that I couldn’t dress the way I used to. We were going to a family gathering.
"My mum took me to River Island and I chose a dress which I would have worn before the accident.
"It was strappy, glittery, quite low – very girlie. But I put it on and looked in the mirror and burst into tears. I hated everything in that reflection – the dress, me, everything. I felt awful, Mum cried too.
“So I started wearing baggy tops and culottes, big T-shirts. Anything to swamp my physique and hide the leg.”
So being back in trendy shoes and clothes is a welcome boost. But there’s one more treat Vicky is hoping for. “I’ve seen a gorgeous pair of red, heeled, Calvin Klein boots,” she giggles.
“I’m hoping Dino has got them for me. I’m looking forward to the New Year and finally feel like myself again.”
Barts Charity Trauma Appeal
Serious traumatic injury claims nearly 17,000 lives a year in the UK – 46 a day. For those that survive, around 70,000 people each year are left with life-changing disabilities such as Vicky’s.
But while trauma is one of the biggest killers of young people under 40 across the country, it receives just one per cent of medical research funding.
The Barts Charity Trauma Appeal has helped to fund vital research into issues such as preventing blood loss – the most common cause of death in trauma patients.
So far the appeal is a third of the way towards its £1million target. Your help can save more lives.
Vicky supports this year’s Barts Charity Trauma Appeal. See bartscharity.org.uk and to donate text TRMA24 £5 to 70070.
Alton Towers Smiler crash
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