In some ways, Owain Roberts was lucky.
Attempting to repair a barn roof that had been damaged in a storm, his ladder gave way right under him and he slid – rather than fell – to the floor from around 15 feet. That was where his luck ran out though, as his foot went through the ladder’s rungs, twisting him as he came to ground abruptly.
Instantly, he knew his injuries were serious, but he still managed to raise the alarm by phoning his wife on his mobile while attempting to use a broom as a makeshift crutch. Initially, when he told her he had fallen off his ladder, his wife thought he was ‘joking around’.
Owain, from Holyhead in North Wales, broke his ankle and lower left leg in more than 10 places. Surgeons feared the leg might have to be amputated, before eventually managing to save it.
However, it will take at least a year for it to mend fully, possibly longer. Owain will probably never recover full mobility and is likely to walk with a limp in future. He has had various metal pins, plates and screws inserted into the leg and some will stay there for life.
The accident happened on February 24 of this year, a Friday night, with the light fading fast. The gable end of the barn roof had been damaged by high winds just the previous day and Owain was keen to fix it quickly in order to ensure his animals (mostly cattle and sheep) stayed safe.
Home to Owain and his family is a 40-acre council farm in Llantrisant. The 47-year-old said: “I’ve been up and down ladders thousands of times and didn’t consider what I was doing to be particularly dangerous. I’m not scared of heights and I’d waited for the storm to pass so things were calm. But I would do things differently next time. I wouldn’t try and do it all on my own, I’d want a mate there. The ladder slipped away like it was on ice.”
The morning after his accident, Owain was in the hospital theatre undergoing an operation. The main five-hour operation came the following Thursday. The road to recovery stretching ahead of him remains long and being unable to work for many months has resulted in thousands of pounds of lost income.
“Friends and family, including the children, have been brilliant but it’s not easy,” said Owain. “Right now the silage needs doing so I’ve got a friend coming in to do that.”
The father-of-two contacted R.A.B.I for assistance after reading an article in R.A.B.I News (while at the Royal Welsh Show), about a farmer in his local area who had received financial support.
R.A.B.I welfare officer Mel Jones, who covers North Wales, visited Owain at his home and quickly arranged for the charity to send him a cheque for £3,000 towards domestic expenses.
“Getting R.A.B.I’s help was a big thing,” said Owain, “but I’m extremely grateful to the charity.”
Pictured above are Owain Roberts (left) and Mel Jones (right).