A woman who was left paralysed from the waist down after falling on a girls’ night out has explained why she turned down the chance to appear on The Undateables.
Francesca Antoniazzi, 28, from Anglesey, Wales, suffered a broken back, fractured skull and a bleed on the brain after she fell in May 2016 – leaving her paralysed from the waist down and with no sense of smell.
Shortly after she started using a wheelchair, Francesca was approached by the team behind Channel 4’s The Undatables, asking if she would like to appear on the show.
Francesca Antoniazzi, 28, from Anglesey, Wales, suffered a broken back, fractured skull and a bleed on the brain after she fell in May 2016 – leaving her paralysed from the waist down and with no sense of smell. She told how The Undateables producers approached her three times about appearing on the show. Pictured, Francesca before the accident (left) and today (right)
Francesca spent three months in hospital before being allowed home – half what she’d initially been told to expect. She went back to her parents’ house, where she had lived before the fall
The series follows singletons with various mental and physical conditions such as Tourettes, learning disabilities and Down syndrome as they search for love.
After multiple attempts by the show, Francesca told them to ‘get lost’, explaining she ‘did not want to be defined that way’.
Recalling the situation, Francesca said: ‘This was about two years ago now. They must have found out I had recently been in an accident and seen that I was in a wheelchair and got in touch with me on Facebook.
‘I didn’t realise that being in a wheelchair automatically meant you were undateable but there we are.
Francesca spent much of her free time in the gym before her accident and has discovered wheelchair sports in the months since. Pictured, working out with a trainer
Francesca won the gold medal in the Welsh weightlifting competition in March after securing a silver medal in the British Championships last July
‘Three times I had different people trying to get me on the programme, I had to tell them to get lost in the end.
‘I’ve never watched it but it feels like they’re saying that I’m absolutely undateable because I’m in a wheelchair, and I don’t want to define myself like that, so I won’t do it. It makes me feel a bit rubbish about myself.’
Francesca remembers little about what happened the night of her accident and the first nine days in hospital remain a ‘blur’.
She said: ‘I basically had to re-learn how to look after myself. I knew when I woke up that I was paralysed and I was devastated, but at the same time I felt like I had no other choice but to accept it.’
Recovery: In the first days after her life-changing fall, visiting friends and family helped take her mind off it, as did regular physio and focusing on re-learning how to do things she’d taken for granted before, like dressing herself
In the early days of her recovery, Francesca struggled to adjust to not doing very much. She wasn’t back at work immediately and much of her time had previously been filled with exercise
Francesca spent three months in hospital before being allowed home – half what she’d initially been told to expect. She went back to her parents’ house, where she had lived before the fall, but the house wasn’t adapted for her new needs.
She also struggled to adjust to not doing very much. She wasn’t going back to work immediately and so much of her time had previously been filled with exercise.
Francesca has since discovered wheelchair sports including basketball and powerlifting.
She said: ‘I have always been into sport. I used to go to the gym five days a week and be in a netball team so I knew I wanted to get straight back into the gym.
‘Now I train in the gym three to four times a week and I have wheelchair basketball training twice a week.
‘I play for Anglesey Hawks, North Wales Knights, and North Wales Knight-mares. I also do para-powerlifting which is bench press and I enter competitions and compete in British championships and Welsh weightlifting competitions.
‘I was determined that not everything had to be different about my life just because I was in a wheelchair.’
Francesca has since discovered wheelchair sports including basketball and powerlifting
Francesca won the gold medal in the Welsh weightlifting competition in March after securing a silver medal in the British Championships last July.
She has now entered herself in to the British para-powerlifting competition in June.
Keen to inspire others who may be in a similar situation, Francesca said: ‘I always think that you have to make the most of what you have because there is always someone out there who is worse off than you.
‘I feel a lot of people lock themselves away when they have a disability. If you feel uncomfortable about doing something I think the best thing is to just go out and do it because once you’ve done it that one time you will feel more comfortable doing it the second time.
‘I think getting into a sport helps with socialising as well. You get to meet a lot of other people who are in similar situations to yourself and people who you can relate to.
Francesca, pictured, wants to encourage other wheelchair users to ‘make the most of what they have’
‘Most importantly you just have to have, go out and just be as happy as you can be. Everyone has bad days, even people without disabilities, that’s life, but tomorrow is a different day.’
Channel 4 has been approached for a comment.
Speaking about Francesca’s case previously, a spokesman for the show told MailOnline: ‘When looking for contributors for this much-commended show the production team approach a wide number of individuals, experts and charities and it was during this process that Francesca passed on her email address to a member of the casting team.
‘Nobody who is approached is assumed to be single or deemed to be “undateable” but rather we hope they will help us spread the word reaching people may like to take part as people who have previously appeared have spoken overwhelmingly in support of it and have found it a really positive experience.’