'Everybody who knows me knows I’ve got a prosthetic leg but they have just never seen it. The response was unbelievable,' says mum who decided to stop hiding her amputation

Teaching assistant Lianne with some of her pupils
Teaching assistant Lianne with some of her pupils
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A woman who for years has hidden her amputated leg has thrown away her chains of insecurities and embraced it - even joining a modelling agency.


It was a combination of her twin boys starting secondary school and getting a new robotic leg which led to Lianne Forrest, 36, having a life-changing moment.

Lianne at the top of Snowdon

Lianne at the top of Snowdon

Now she has also conquered Snowdon in a fundraising bid to pull in cash for The Limbless Association which helps amputees come to terms with the loss of a limb.

“Both my boys started high school last year,” said Lianne, who lives in Tarleton with her sons Finlay and Alfie, both 12, and husband Adam, 40.

“Other children that age started making comments. I thought to myself, I can’t hide behind it anymore. I’ve got to be proud of it so that they can be.

“I wanted them to say, ‘So what? we are proud of her’.

Teaching Assistant Lianne with Jamie

Teaching Assistant Lianne with Jamie

“I wanted to show that I wasn’t bothered.”

So the first day she wore her new prosthetic robotic metal leg Lianne snapped a photo of herself with it on and posted it on Instagram.

“I had some shorts on,” said Lianne. “It was August and we were going for lunch. I wrote my spiel about why I’m posting the picture. Someone else had to press the send button.

“Everybody who knows me knows I’ve got a prosthetic leg but they have just never seen it. The response was unbelievable, everybody’s been so kind.

Lianne appeared in the Lancashire Evening Post in 1985

Lianne appeared in the Lancashire Evening Post in 1985

“The legs I had before I was always able to cover them up with trousers. Getting this new one you can’t really have a foam cover on it, you can but it wouldn’t work as well.

“The ones I had before never really looked attractive. With this new one it was just a metal pole. We found this company that did this really funky cover. It just helped me with the cosmetic side and the way it looked.

“I was always bothered about what people might be thinking.”

Lianne says accepting herself since she had her leg amputated due to a rare bone infection called Osteomyelitis has been a “massive weight off my shoulders”.She is relishing the freedom it has allowed her and the community of others she has met through Instagram who also have amputated limbs.

“I hated the fact that I was an amputee,” said Lianne. “I’d never really met anyone of my own age who was an amputee.

“I started with about 150 followers on Instagram and now I’ve got more than 1,500. ”

Lianne says it was during an afternoon with family friends that she decided she wanted to do something more.

She said: “This new leg has given me a lot more freedom, it does a lot of the work for me.

“We decided to go to Snowdon for a weekend away and I thought well I might as well do it for charity. I saw posters for The Limbless Association at Royal Preston Hospital.

“Now I’m just short of £2,000 which is just amazing. People have been really supportive.”

Relating how the day’s walk up Snowdon went Lianne added: “It took us three and a half hours up and three hours back down.

“When we woke up the weather was really bad. It was torrential rain. I said I’ve still got to do it. We didn’t rush. We decided to take the Miners’ Track for a challenge. We didn’t realise what was involved, there was quite a bit of rock climbing. I had my two sons helping me up. The public were so supportive, telling me that I haven’t got too far to go. A lady went past and she said, ‘You’re my inspiration’, and to keep going. She said, ‘If you can do it I can do it’.

“I was really grateful it didn’t rain the whole time. That would have been really tricky. At the top it was freezing. There was only cloud but we took some great photos on the way up.

“It was lovely coming down. My leg did well on the way up but my left leg, which is my good one, was sore coming down. I had pain in my ankle and my knee.

“I was in a bubble all the way back I couldn’t believe I had done it. Now I’m thinking about what’s next.”

Just recently Lianne has also joined modelling agency Zebedee Management for people with differences which she heard about through an Instagram friend.

“I got chatting to another girl and she said she was with these agencies and its really taken off,” said Lianne. “I’ve just had my profile pictures done. It made me feel so much better.”

As a teaching assistant at Tarleton Holy Trinity CofE primary school, Lianne is also a role model for the children there. Accepting her amputated leg has also helped them to widen their perspectives.

“Most of the children knew about my leg but they’d never seen me with it,” she said. “The headteacher did a come back assembly saying Mrs Forrest looks a bit different. They were just in awe.

“One of my favourites was ‘Mrs Forrest - will you short circuit?’ Now it’s just the norm for them.

“Last year in my class we had a little boy who joined us. He was born without an arm so we are a have a bit of a bond.”

Challenges

Lianne appeared in the Lancashire Evening Post in 1985. She was pictured riding her Shetland pony as her parents told how riding had helped her live with spina bifida.
But there were more challenges to come for Lianne and six years later she had her leg amputated below her knee due to osteomyelitis - a rare but serious infection of the bone - and then again above her knee at the age of 18.
She is now 36 and married with 12 year old twin boys. It was only 12 months ago that she became comfortable without her leg and came to the realisation that she could not hide being an amputee and should embrace it, so she now shows it off.
Speaking of her husband Adam, Lianne said: “He’s just been amazing. He’s put up with a lot.
“I was with him when I was 18 so he’s been on this journey with me.
“I couldn’t of done any of this without my three boys behind me.
“I just wish I’d been as confident years ago.
“Having spina bifida was one of the things my parents were told all those years ago that would mean I would never walk.
“I think I’ve proved that to be not so true.”

To donate to Lianne’s cause go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lianne-forrest1