Belong Wigan resident gains new lease of life

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Lifelong resident of Leigh Celia Ridyard, who previously required the use of a wheelchair, is walking again and socialising after moving to the Belong care village in Wigan and embracing the village’s activities programme, including following a personalised exercise programme

A lifelong resident of Leigh in Greater Manchester, who previously required the use of a wheelchair, is walking again and socialising after moving to Honeysuckle Court independent living apartments at Belong Wigan and embracing the village’s activities programme, including following a personalised exercise programme.


Celia has even turned walking into a fundraising initiative, recently joining a group of ladies at the village in raising over £300 in sponsorship for charity Breast Cancer UK by each clocking up 250,000 steps in a month.

A few years ago, Celia Ridyard, who had lived in Leigh for the past 50 years, including over 25 years at her previous home, was left paralysed from the neck down as a result of an autoimmune disease but fought hard to regain her mobility. After six months’ rehabilitation she was able to live independently, albeit unable to do everything that she had previously done.


At the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, Celia’s family, many of whom are key workers, were worried about the risk posed by coronavirus and that she may become lonely as a result of being required to isolate. This and declining mobility were behind Celia’s move to Belong Wigan in Platt Bridge. Moving into an apartment there meant that Celia could retain her independence while having the peace of mind of 24-hour emergency support and a vibrant community on her doorstep.


Initially, Celia Ridyard was sad to leave her neighbours and friends behind and missed her old home. It didn’t help that it was the height of the pandemic and measures limiting social contact were at their strictest.

In the following months, however, as more interaction between people became possible, including the introduction of support bubbles, Celia kindled a new social life at the village. She has since developed friendships with other residents, with whom she enjoys attending activities, including bingo and arts and crafts. She also attends weekly keep fit classes, as well as one-to-one sessions with village exercise instructor, with exercises tailored to improve balance and lower body strength.

This has had a significant impact on Celia’s mobility. Previously, she would only leave home with a family member and insisted on using a wheelchair. She now goes by herself to activities up to five times a week with only the aid of a walking frame, and her support bubble meets each day at 2pm to walk around the outside of the village.

Celia’s family say that the motivation to attend activities with new friends has got her walking again. “When she was at home, she had no reason to walk very far. Now she’s got her friends to do everything with. As a result, the improvement in her confidence is amazing. Not only has her mobility improved significantly, she’s much happier – it was definitely the right decision to make the move to Belong Wigan,” says her granddaughter Katie.

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