Wakefield woman defies doctors to become inspirational speaker

Kayleigh Kirkham.
Kayleigh Kirkham.
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Kayleigh Kirkham is a determined young woman.

Nothing makes her more determined than being told she can’t do something, and she has been told that a lot over the years.

Kayleigh, 27, suffers from diplegic cerebral palsy – which seriously affects the movement of her legs.

She works with children with special needs, drives a car, travels to America and gives inspirational speeches about her life and founded a website Disabled But Still Able which has followers across the world.

But when Kayleigh, from Wakefield, was a year old doctors diagnosed the condition and told her parents that she would never walk, talk, sit up or be able to live independently.

“My mum had gone into labour ten weeks early and doctors said that they could lose us both and they said my dad had to choose to save his wife or his unborn baby.

“I don’t blame his for choosing to save his wife, it’s what anyone would have done,” she said.

“It wasn’t until I was one and failing to hit the normal milestones that doctors diagnosed cerebral palsy and told my parents their dreadful prognosis.

“But my mum is a very strong and determined woman. While they accepted the cerebral palsy diagnosis they did not accept that I wasn’t going to be able to do anything.”

Kayleigh’s physiotherapist at the time knew Mr Tom William Smith an orthopaedic surgeon at Sheffield Children’s Hospital and suggested the Kirkhams got to see him.

“He changed my life,” says Kayleigh simply. “He told my parents: ‘We will work hard and we will get Kayleigh walking.’ And he did.”

After years of treatment and surgery Kayleigh now has a new lease of life and her greatest achievement was travelling to America on her own for the first time.

She added: “I was so proud when I did it the first time and now I just love to travel and spend time with friends.”