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Dancer battles dark times to graduate

Serious cartilage tear prevents dance student from performing for six months but she battles back to complete her studies

A dance student who overcame a serious hip problem has defied the odds to graduate from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

During most of her second year, Leona Philpot was prevented from performing the practical elements on her BA (Hons) Dance Performance & Teaching due to the intense pain caused by a cartilage snap, known as a labral tear. But, with a dogged determination she fought back to complete the course and graduated in Preston’s Guild Hall alongside her very supportive classmates.

The 21-year-old said: “I was sat in my class when all of a sudden I felt a horrendous pain in my left hip. I couldn’t understand what was going on and the pain was so intense. I hobbled home and was quickly taken to A&E. I was given painkillers and crutches but they didn’t help.

“It took lots of tests over quite a few months to diagnose the problem but during all that time I kept going to all my classes despite knowing I couldn’t perform any of the moves. I would watch the others practice and would learn the theory but it was frustrating not being able to take part.”

Once Leona was diagnosed, she started on an intensive physiotherapy programme which was put together by students on UCLan’s physiotherapy course.

It took lots of tests over quite a few months to diagnose the problem but during all that time I kept going to all my classes despite knowing I couldn’t perform any of the moves.

The former Bolton College student said: “I was the ideal patient, I did everything I was told because I knew I wanted to get back dancing as soon as possible. My lecturer was great because while the rest of the class was undertaking their practical lessons, I was able to have a mat in the corner and do my rehab and stretches so that I was still involved.”

Leona, from Aspull near Wigan, was out of action for six months and her lecturers recommended she didn’t continue the course but she was determined to get back to full fitness and continue her studies.

The former St Joseph’s High School pupil added: “If people tell me I can’t do something then I automatically think I want to prove them wrong. There were plenty of dark times when I thought I might never get back to doing what I love but I worked really hard, I did extra practical sessions throughout my third year to catch-up, I had great support from friends and lecturers, and in the end I was very emotional to finally graduate.”

At some stage in the near future, Leona will have to have an operation on the injury and her recovery could take up to a year. She is now looking forward to starting her primary teacher training course in September.


Leona Philpot

Rachel Atkinson | 20 July 2018