I was engulfed in a fireball and left with a new face – my son was too scared to sit next to me

A YOUNG mum who suffered severe burns in a pub heater explosion said her son feared coming near her as she recovered.

April Charlesworth, 29, was enjoying a birthday visit to her local with cousin Ashleigh, 28, when a man reportedly threw ethanol at the burner.

Both women were engulfed in flames, sustaining horrific injuries to their faces.

But a year on from the horror, they've shared amazing snaps of their recovery – and say they're comfortable with their scars.

April said she remembered her face being on fire as she "panicked" at the King's Head near Sudbury in Suffolk.

In deep shock, she repeatedly told friends: "I'm ok. I want to go home and see my son."

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But her head, chest and hands were badly hurt, and both she and Ashleigh fought for their lives on ventilators after being rushed to hospital.

She told the BBC she faced agony as she recovered, describing the pain as "unreal". She was unable to look in a mirror until she was discharged.

And whenthe mum returned home, her eight-year-old Franklin was so frightened he refused to sit beside her on the sofa for several months.

She said: "It was difficult to readjust to normal life. It still is.

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"I still don't like going out by myself. It completely changed me as a person, even now."

But she said it's "ok to have bad days", adding: "It's important to accept hard times – it does get better."

Ashleigh, who was working as a children's nurse at the time of the explosion, said some people "can't believe" the extent of her ordeal.

"Me and April live five minutes away from each other, so we've been going through it together," she said.

She returned to the gym just five weeks later, and said she's become more "appreciative" of her body.


"I'm not afraid to show off my scars. Now people look at me and I'll be like, 'Yeah, I've got a scar, do you want to talk about it?'" she said.

"We went to London recently for a photoshoot and we didn't wear make up and it was fine.

"I definitely wouldn't have done that even before the injuries."

She has been forced to give up her previous career and retrain as a clinician for the NHS 111 service as a result of her injuries.

Both women have shared photos of their injuries and rehabilitation on social media. They are due to begin 18 months of laser treatment to reduce scarring.

I used to be wild and carefree… it's taken a lot of reflection to know that I'm still here and alive

"Mentally, it's been difficult," Ashleigh said.

"It's taken a lot of reflection to know that I'm still here and alive.

"I get a bit cautious around drunk people – I don't really go 'out out'. If I do, I make sure I'm fully aware of what's going on around me.

"I used to be more wild and carefree, but now I'm cautious."

Cops are continuing to probe the explosion.

Ashleigh and April are fundraising for the Katie Piper Foundation, a burns rehabilitation charity that has supported them.

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On April 30, they will climb Scafell Pike – England's highest mountain – and hope to raise £5,000.

For more information, or to donate, visit katiepiperfoundation.enthuse.com/pf/ashleigh-charlesworth-be8e5 

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