A woman who was left severely burned after a pub heater exploded on her has now become a social media star — and is celebrating how far she’s come since the accident.
April Charlesworth, 30, has built a platform sharing her daily life with her nearly 25,000 followers on TikTok and is now on a journey towards self-acceptance, inspired by her 9-year-old son, Franklin.
“I was open about what happened to me as soon as I came out of hospital, I wanted people to see the dangers of playing with fire, so I went on social media to share my photos,” Charlesworth told NeedToKnow.co.uk.
“Social media has really helped, the amount of people who are so supportive,” she added.
Two years ago, while celebrating her 28th birthday with some friends at King’s Head near Sudbury in Suffolk, England, Charlesworth’s face was set on fire after a man threw ethanol at a portable burner.
Witnesses reportedly said customers brought the gas-fueled space heater into the pub’s garden to keep them warm before it caught fire.
“A certain person, who was part of the group I was with, thought it was funny to keep filling the heater up with ethanol,” April said previously.
WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES
She became engulfed in flames and was rushed to the hospital, where she was put into an induced coma for four days.
The mom-of-one stayed in the hospital for months after.
The 30-year-old ended up with third-degree burns on her face, hands, chest and arms.
Her recovery has been a difficult journey, both physically and mentally, involving surgery every six weeks for the past year and laser surgery to reduce the appearance of her scars.
“After the accident, I felt so horrible that I couldn’t look in mirrors for months, so my mum taped them up for me,” Charlesworth, who works as a hairdresser, told the outlet.
“My self-confidence was completely destroyed.”
But sharing her story on social media has only helped her healing process, even though it may have seemed unfamiliar at first.
“At first it was strange; I felt really vulnerable but then it felt nice that people cared so much and wanted to know how well I was doing,” she explained.
Charlesworth said she shared her story to help others who were also going through trauma.
“I’ve had so many people message me and ask how to deal with things, and it’s made me feel amazing that I’m able to help people.”
Something else that she says helps is that her son doesn’t seem to be phased by her scars.
“I still struggle to this day with the appearance of the scars; there’s still days when I hate looking at them – but I deal with it a lot better now,” Charlesworth said.
“I’m not ashamed of them anymore and wear them with pride.”
And so far, her journey on TikTok has been mostly positive, as she hasn’t received too many negative comments, except for the occasional one or two.
She says she can’t even remember the mean words at this point.
“I would say to anybody experiencing burns, no matter how hard it seems now, I promise it gets better,” Charlesworth said.
“I wanted to end my life, but I’m now happy again and know life is always worth living no matter how it feels at the time.”