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18th Jun 2021

Dad who couldn’t walk vows to take daughter’s first steps on Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day, dads!

Ask anyone what they’ve learnt coming out of lockdown, and most will probably say they’ve realised just how important it is to cherish those closest to us.

With this in mind, we’ve put together four exclusive stories to celebrate the most important bloke in our lives – our old man!

Taking Our First Steps Together

The first story comes from an inspirational Environmental Psychologist and Wellbeing Consultant from Lancashire, Lee Chambers. 

“In June 2014, my immune system failed, attacking my joints and leaving me hospitalised and in pretty bad shape,” says father of two, Lee. 

“After a month in hospital, it was under control, but my knees were so badly damaged I could no longer walk.”

Lee was first taken into hospital his wife was six months pregnant with his daughter, and his son was 18 months old at the time, which left a heavy burden on Lee’s family.

“It was a very difficult time for everyone, particularly with me being out of the picture and needing help washing myself.

“It was really challenging for my wife, Louise, in particular, being six months pregnant, not being on maternity leave yet and having to move back in with her parents, so they could look after our son, while she took care of me.”

Later that year, Lee went into walking rehab; an incredibly intense form of rehabilitation that is designed to strengthen the muscles and improve endurance. A little later in that year, Lee was able to progress into physiotherapy and his daughter was born in the October.

After his daughter was born, Lee made a vow to himself and his newborn daughter, “I made a promise to myself that I would be back walking by the time she was taking her first steps.”

Throughout his rehabilitation, Lee experienced a bunch of setbacks and struggles, including a spinal injury that threatened his progress but, incredibly, by May 2015, Lee was able to walk a mile without any help, “I feel like I’d triumphed,” he said when asked how he felt at that moment.

In June 2015, his daughter began to take her first steps too, “On Father’s Day went to the seaside and walked together, hand in hand.”

“And now on every Father’s Day, we celebrate taking those steps together and the bond we have forged through our journey.”

Six years later and Lee is back on his feet, and although he’s unable to physically do some of the things that he was once able to do, he can walk for miles, which he’s incredibly grateful for. 

Lee still doesn’t know why he experienced this attack, but it triggered a chronic form of autoimmune arthritis, which he has carefully managed with a balance of exercise, diet and sleep. “I managed to come off my immune system medication last summer, which meant I didn’t have to shield during COVID.”

When asked what the biggest takeaway from his journey was, Lee simply says, “Your health is precious, don’t take walking for granted.”

Lee knows he owes an incredible amount to his wife Louise too, “Every Father’s Day reminds me how I wouldn’t be a good father if it wasn’t for the sacrifices my amazing wife made in those early days of my illness.”

You can keep up to date with what Lee has been up to during his recovery on his website 

Operation Mallard

Most of us love nature, but this Manchester-based dad become a duck guardian when a nesting mallard laid her eggs on his ninth-floor apartment balcony, roughly 150 feet from ground level.

This story was shared by Somerset-based writer and voice over artist Emma Newman, as she outlined the lengths her dad, Steve went to ensuring that two generations of ducklings could hatch safely on his ninth-floor apartment balcony in Salford Quays, Manchester:


Steve, a former military survival specialist, first discovered that he had become host to a mallard on his balcony in March 2020 only for the same bird to return earlier this year.

To keep his new roommate safe, he rearranged his planters and sealed off gaps in his balcony and arranged a rope and bucket pully to lower the birds down once the eggs hatched. 

Emma’s incredible story captured the hearts of her followers and garnered thousands of likes and retweets on social media. 

While the duck was tending to her eggs, her dad ensured that he didn’t disturb the nest or her eggs, going as far as covering his balcony windows with old aviation maps from his flying days and commando crawling inside his flat to ensure he wouldn’t scare the duck while going about his business: 

Emma’s dad took his responsibility to the duck and her ducklings very seriously, and once they hatched, he used his pulley system to lower them down to the ground so they could get to the canal together.

The protection he provided for the duck’s led to the same bird returning this year. And so began Operation Mallard 2.

An Unexpected Birthday Present

“Modelling in his undies on his 80th birthday was possibly not the plan he had in mind for his birthday, but it was an amazing effort, and the pictures get great feedback from people.” Says Y.O.U Underwear founder and CEO, Sarah Jordan, when asked about her dad stepping in to model to help further her social enterprise.

“I was shocked at the number of women and children I met who didn’t have access to something we take for granted every day – underwear.” Says Sarah.

Y.O.U Underwear operates on a buy-one-give-two model, which means that every time a customer purchases a pair of Y.O.U underwear, they will donate two pairs to Smalls for All, and Sarah’s dad realised the importance of reaching as many people as they possibly can with their message, while also encouraging positive body image to all ages.

“My parents have always been incredibly supportive, but a highlight has to be my dad stripping down to his undies!” 

When asked about the impact her dad has had on this journey, Sarah says, “Although I never imagined running an underwear business, it really has become a family business and my dad is a huge inspiration to me!”

Losing Weight and Gaining Memories

“I had separated from my wife a year before deciding to lose weight and had been in a pretty poor state mentally for some time,” says Kent resident and dad of three Gareth Shadick, “I was already very overweight but had put on at least two stone over the course of a year. I was very aware of how little I could do with my three boys who wanted to be quite active. My weight was very limiting in what I was able to do with them.”

When Gareth joined his local Slimming World, he weighed 26 stone and set himself a target to lose an amazing eleven stone for his kids.

“I learned so much early on about the main aspects of what my diet needed to look like but realised there was the flexibility to make it work for me.” Says Gareth.

“Thinking about what to replace with what was an important part of my learning about food, and by listening to people in my group I realised that it is different for everyone, but anyone can make it work for them if they want it enough.”

This February, he hit his target of losing eleven stone and has maintained his weight since, which he set himself in order to be healthier and bond with his three boys.

“I have so much energy compared to before, it is difficult to describe how different (I feel). I am very active now.” Says Gareth, when asked what he had learnt from his experience.

“I am training to run a marathon later this year. I regularly play football, cricket, table tennis and more with my boys. I know how much they enjoy that I am able to be active with them.”

The biggest pinch-me moment for Gareth, was when he took his sons to Legoland and Chessington and he was able to go on the rides with his lads, “previously I had to let them go on without me as I was just too big.” Concludes Gareth.

Written by Hayley Armstrong, a passionate writer, editor and the Consumer Growth Marketing Manager at