Paralysed mother finds love with personal trainer after husband leaves her while she was in hospital

Rachel Hosie
Riona and Keith
Riona and Keith

29 months ago, Riona Kelly, 37, was told she’d never walk again after a stroke left her paralysed.

But now not only can the mother-of-four walk, she can jump. And it’s largely down to the support of her personal trainer turned partner, Keith Mason, with whom she found love.

In March 2015, Kelly fell down the stairs and suffered a rare spinal stroke, which left her paralysed from her waist down.

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Her then husband of 14 years claims he told her he wanted a divorce the day before she had the stroke, but Kelly says it happened afterwards.

But she’s now moved on and is looking forward to the future with her new partner, ex-rugby player and personal trainer Keith Mason, 35, who has helped her defy doctors’ expectations.

Kelly was originally told she would be able to take her first steps six weeks after her stroke, but those six weeks came and went, and she was still unable to move her legs - doctors thought she may never be able to.

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But two weeks later, with the help of a parallel bar, Kelly took her first steps.

She started training with Mason in January 2016 and the two kept in touch after they’d finished working together - a romantic relationship soon blossomed.

With the help of Mason and her wheelchair, Kelly, who is from Halifax, West Yorkshire, has now completed two marathons. She still struggles though, as she’s explained on Instagram:

“I don't enjoy being paralysed one bit. It’s bloody hard!! I miss being able-bodied. I miss running around with my kids and doing things on the spur of the moment.

“I miss feeling warmth on my legs, splashing in puddles with my kids and feeling the water bounce off my skin. I really miss having the full use of my legs, I just miss silly little things that most of us take for granted.”

But, she says, when she feels down, it’s Mason who always brings her back up.

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“As I lay crying, my loving partner just held me and told me how much I inspired him, how much he loved me and that it's ok to feel frustrated and to cry,” she wrote. “He reassured me that he was there for me and how much I meant to him.”

Kelly says Mason is the link that had always been missing in her life, and she thinks he’s “perfectly made” for her.

“I thank the lord for bringing my soulmate into my life,” Kelly says. “Apart from my children I have never loved anyone the way that I love my best friend.

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“He’s shown me the true meaning of a loving relationship. A relationship that’s strong. That works in harmony. That compromises. That’s loyal and true and above all a relationship that just works so perfectly.

“I’ve heard for years that relationships are hard work and for years that’s what I had until now.

“I’ve found the missing half of me, that piece of the puzzle that perfectly finishes the picture.”