Wigan Dancing Queen May has a twirl to celebrate her 100th birthday

Flora May Choraffa, known as May, celebrates her 100th birthday with exercise instructor Ryan Cadman at Belong Village, Platt Bridge
Flora May Choraffa, known as May, celebrates her 100th birthday with exercise instructor Ryan Cadman at Belong Village, Platt Bridge

A former ballroom dancer completed a remarkable comeback from injury to enjoy a 100th birthday twirl.


May Choraffa feared that her dancing days were over when a serious hip injury confined her to a wheelchair.

Flora May Choraffa with her telegram from The Queen

Flora May Choraffa with her telegram from The Queen

But thanks to a remarkable rehabilitation programme at care village Belong Wigan, the plucky Strictly fan was back on her feet to celebrate reaching three figures this week.

Her story attracted national interest when her progression from wheelchair to walking frame was recognised by the NHS as a flagship case study in the Leading Change, Adding Value programme, designed to showcase best practice in transforming health outcomes.

The lifelong dancer began her recovery at the Platt Bridge-based village in January 2018, after a major hip impairment left her unable to walk.

Determined to get back on the dance floor, May embarked upon a rehabilitation journey in the care operator’s gym, with the help of specialist fitness instructors and state-of-the-art exercise equipment.

And after a year of sticking to her personal programme, May said goodbye to her wheelchair, is strong enough to walk with just the help of a frame, and danced on the big day.

May said: “The exercise programme has changed my life.

“I never thought I would be able to walk again, but thanks to my fitness instructor, Ryan, and the amazing facilities in the gym, I don’t have to hang up my dancing shoes just yet.

“I now have the strength and confidence to be the active and independent person I always have been.”

Exercise instructor Ryan Cadman said: “May is a lovely lady and it has been incredible to see her mobility go from strength to strength over the last year.

“I’m really proud of how far she has come and thrilled that all of our hard work has paid off. I hope May’s story will help others, just like her, get back on their feet.”

The village’s experience co-ordinator Tanya Guy said: “It was so nice to see May on the dance floor.

“Being such a great dancer when she was younger she thinks she can’t dance now, but she is not giving herself enough credit.

“She was injured and in a wheelchair and now she is back dancing.

“It is a great achievement for her and the instructors. She was happy and chuffed to bits.”

A spokeswoman for the award-winning retirement village said: “Belong is committed to supporting people to live well through exercise and, as such, all

Belong village customers have access to an exercise studio equipped with specialist equipment, which is supervised by instructors qualified in fitness and exercise for older people.”