A paralysed mum-of-four who found love with former Huddersfield Giants star Keith Mason has revealed she is pregnant with their child.
Riona Kelly, 37, was left paralysed from the belly button down after a spinal stroke.
She was told by doctors she would never walk again but was determined to prove them wrong – and hired Keith, 35, as her personal trainer.
Dewsbury-born Keith, who retired from rugby league at the age of 31, took on the challenge of helping Riona beat the odds – and love blossomed.
Now, the Examiner can reveal, the couple are expecting their first child together.
The baby is due at the end of May and Riona said: “We are delighted. It’s very early days and we weren’t sure about coming out with the news but we’re expecting a mini Mason!
“For a long time I was a queen fighting alone, but now I’m not fighting alone any more. The queen has found a king.”
Riona, of Halifax, suffered the devastating stroke in March 2015 - but just eight weeks later Riona, mum to Leighnara, 16, Caleb, 11, Izabela, nine, and Logan, five, took her first steps.
She put out an appeal on Facebook for a personal trainer and met up with Keith who got her out of her wheelchair and back on her feet with the aid of crutches.
Riona had been a fit and healthy woman until a car accident 18 months before which may have affected her spine.
After the stroke doctors said she’d never walk again but she didn’t accept the bleak diagnosis.
Every day in hospital she built up her strength before finally being allowed home after four months.
“I was determined to do it for my children,” she said.
Riona met former Giants, St Helens, Wakefield and Castleford prop Keith 12 months ago and the couple have made a new life together.
“Keith asked me out for a coffee and it just went from there,” she said. “Keith has been amazing with me and the children and what happened was the best thing ever to happen to me.”
In 2013 Keith was awarded almost £150,000 in damages after he was dismissed by the Giants when a picture of a teammate’s naked bottom appeared on Twitter.
Big pals with Hollywood actor Mickey Rourke, Keith has appeared in half-a-dozen movies including Skin Traffik with Rourke and Kill Bill star Daryl Hannah.
He has now launched his own production company and is working on a rugby-themed action movie.