Hugo’s story: Running For My Sister

Hugo’s story: Running For My Sister

Some people are clearly born runners; their long legs bound gracefully over concrete, one long limbed extension after another, a serene look of ease on their fair, unclammy face. They glide past you on the street as silent and fast as an archer’s release. Sadly for the majority of us this is not the case. The rest of us huff and puff our way across cracked pavement and over ungainly tree roots. Brows sweat profusely and headphones are imperative to block out the slap slap of flipper-flat foot on tarmac and mud.

Haile Gebrselassie I am not. There is no denying that I am firmly ensconced in this second category of runners. My stumpy legs belie my height and my hobbit-like feet make dumbo look like a ballerina.

I can’t pretend that it was my intention to ever compete in the marathon, it was not something that had previously crossed my mind and it was only due to a miscommunication with my over-eager sister that I got mixed up in the whole thing in the first place.

I was naturally tentative to start with, and my mind conjured seemingly watertight excuses as to why I shouldn’t take part: “Shouldn’t you be concentrating on your new job?” “Pounding those concrete streets is going to wreak havoc on your knees.” “Do you even realise how long 26.2 miles is?’’. However, by the end of September, largely thanks to the advice and enthusiasm of Back Up, those excuses had run dry and I filled in my application form.

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Hugo taking a pit stop during his training!

Once I had been accepted to run on behalf of the charity the first few weeks were full of encouragement, advice and the occasional ‘you wouldn’t get me doing that’. I filled out the paperwork but my training wasn’t due to start until the first week of January. What better excuse was there than that to make the most of the festive period and eat and drink to my heart’s content? And so it was that on the January 3rd (the 1st and 2nd were bank holidays before you ask) I set off on my first run of the year – full of vim and fervour for the open roads and perhaps a few pounds more Hugo than when I had signed up.

The first few runs didn’t seem too bad, I was following a training regime downloaded from the internet that called itself ‘Running your first Marathon’ which put special emphasis on rest days and eating enough carbohydrates to fuel your body, two things that come very naturally to me. The hardest part of these first sessions was undoubtedly the winter chill that had settled on South West London. The biting cold  claws at any uncovered patch of flesh and reminds you every morning how easy it would be to just stay in bed. My brand new, hi-tech running trainers, with their extra breathable flyknit weave fabric and their durable yet malleable polyurethane foam soles, were no match for the nippy gust that freezes toes.

The reason that I am putting myself through all of this is simple: to do what I can to raise money for a charity that I know first hand makes a huge difference. The effect that a spinal cord injury has is devastating.

Six years ago my sister fell from a balcony and broke her back, which left her completely paralysed from the waist down. She spent weeks in a coma, followed by further months in hospital. The moment she was able to put her mind to her future, Back Up was there. They taught her everything there was to know about life in a wheelchair, from the skills that it takes to cover the unprepared high streets to how to educate people about life with a spinal cord injury.

Back Up were there when Sophie finished her rehabilitation, guiding her at every turn. The charity set her up on a trip to Colorado to try sit skiing for the first time and now she is competing to represent Great Britain at the next Paralympics. The work they do is immeasurable. That is why I am so proud to be helping out in my small fashion by lumbering my way around the streets of London.

So the weeks go by and the runs get longer and harder.  My fundraising page, that I check daily, sounds out the countdown in its jovial comic sans typeface. At the time of writing the big day is 60 days off and moral is high. The generosity of friends, family and even those who don’t know me but have been kind enough to donate, has blown me away and I am so grateful that they have given me this opportunity to help raise money in order to support those in need of Back Up’s services.

The weather is slowly improving and I no longer finish my pre-work runs under a cloak of darkness. A pesky muscle strain has slowed my progress over the last 5 days but with any luck the cocktail of anti-inflammatories and ice spray will see that it does not tarnish my ambitions. I still have a long way to go and who knows what obstacles will be placed in my path over the next couple of months. One thing is for certain, however, that Back Up will be with me throughout, just as they have been there for so many.

To help Hugo reach his fundraising goal, click here to make a donation. If you would like to register your interest for our London Marathon 2018 team, please contact Alex (Alexandra@backuptrust.org.uk) for more information or click here to see our other running/pushing challenges.

Leonie and Lucille’s story: Our Family

Leonie and Lucille’s story: Our Family

We were introduced to Back Up during our first whirlwind stay at the National Spinal Injuries Centre, Stoke Mandeville. My mind was unable to process much of that upheaval period so soon after the accident despite the repetition and familiarity of each day. So whilst we appreciated Wacky Wednesday fun – a monthly cooking evening organised by Back Up for the children on the ward and their families – we weren’t really sure what to say or enquire about and it all sort of passed us by. The leaflets were carefully pocketed however, because of the enticing Skiing and Multi Activity courses they described, that had planted precious seeds for the future.

Following Lucille’s rehabilitation, the hospital teaching staff were quite persistent about contacting Back Up to assist Lucille as she settled back into school. During her first weeks, Lucille was very uncomfortable with being such a celebrity and being asked so many questions about her wheelchair and spinal cord injury. But Sophie, who has a spinal cord injury and is one of Back Up’s School Advocates, came in to do a presentation for staff and students. It served wonderfully to explain the key points about Lucille’s injury and stem the flow of curiosity. Even more importantly, it established wheelchair etiquette. Lucille will forever thank Sophie for stopping people from trying to push her chair and always offering their help. Lucille is glad to be able to ask for help when she needs it, exactly like everybody else.

There was a key moment for me during the presentation when Sophie mentioned the statistic about the number of people with spinal cord injury living in the UK. At that very moment, Lucille cheered. She instinctively regarded it as a positive thing that there were more people like her. It was almost like a club she was proud to be a member of – ignoring any thought of whether she’d rather not be in it, as that’s not the point!

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Leonie & Lucille

There is no purpose in dwelling on an alternative life, but it’s very important to embrace the good of what is in yours, including Back Up solidarity. That cheer taught me so much about acceptance, and that instant bond with Sophie sealed the deal for Lucille – she now associates very good things and friends with Back Up and is always excited to hear of upcoming events like the Back Up Festival coming this August. She asked me, “will there be dancing?”

I was a little ahead of Lucille in that wholehearted endorsement for Back Up, as shortly before her return to school, I had contacted the Family Mentoring service when feeling quite desperate. The recommendation had been made several times, but with my social graces still shattered, communication was pretty minimal, and the strength to reach out to new people eluded me. My own grief for our more carefree life was still overwhelming. I felt so lost in the new world of ordering unknown equipment, dealing with bodily functions, needing to be forever vigilant and yet acutely aware this was now our everyday life. I knew we would cope, we just needed some happy times ahead as a family, but even a motivating thought like a family holiday brought its own worries and questions: How would we travel?

I contacted Charlie, Back Up’s Family Mentoring Coordinator, but was a bit stumped by her request for a focus point and stipulation of ten sessions. Did I have a coherent question to ask a mentor? Didn’t I simply want to be helped? Would mentoring mean tears and stories of woe? I felt confused, but somehow, thankfully, I instinctively trusted Charlie and the process.

I was paired up with Sarah and firstly there was an exchange of stories. I did wonder at that point if we had shared enough similar experiences: shouldn’t she have a daughter injured at the same age, the same way and be able to relate to everything I was wondering about? It turned out the key was humanity, kindness and understanding, immeasurably enhanced by valuable knowledge, experience and practical advice.

I can honestly say I owe Sarah more than she will ever know. Through the conversations with her and her excellent guidance, I was able to transform into a manager of my daughter’s care needs. I use that word on purpose, as it exemplifies the components needed: planning, resources, time allocation, but carefully carried out, as Lucille is of course primarily my daughter and doesn’t need a manager – rather it’s her care requirements caused by her injury that need managing. Sarah also recommended lists for everything: going out, travelling, hospital stays, supplies, medication, routines – everything! Those lists became a picture-filled routines booklet that is such a helpful guide to anyone working or interacting with Lucille, not least for Lucille herself: she knows all about herself, and has an easy way to explain it to anyone who needs to know. By organising it all, it made it possible to delegate and – more importantly – to distinguish between my personal assistant role and my role as a mother.

What’s also very meaningful is the confidence this direction has given all of us for the future. Lucille can already see how the booklet maps out her routines, giving her a sense of ownership while being assisted. It was very powerful for illustrating to the school that complex balance of what Lucille can do, what she can try, and what she would like to learn next – no wrapping in cotton wool in her peer environment when not needed! I often wish the booklet could automatically update, but other times it’s great to be so organic and know that a spirited girl can never be summarised in eight A4 pages.

What really blossomed throughout the mentoring sessions was my confidence. I write that cautiously, as I don’t want to sound pompous, but I trust that those reading this article will understand how frightening the plunge into the spinal cord injury world is at first and that everyone in it has a metamorphosis ahead. By everyone I not only mean the injured person, but also their family and friends. You don’t need to measure or compare the magnitude of each person’s adaptation, just know that everyone has their own individual challenges.

We are very lucky to have Back Up, who put everything in place for those metamorphoses to be positive. I guess the difficult part is timing as it’s such a personal journey. Lucille identified a personal champion in Sophie, and I think that bond to the charity will only grow for all of us. I wasn’t ready for any of it during the Wacky Wednesdays, but still appreciated that Back Up was there at the beginning. They gave us the first nudge, the first sense of being in this together, of not being alone. Wanting to be part of it just took us a while.

To find out more about Family Mentoring click here or you can contact our Family Mentoring Coordinator Charlie (Charlief@backuptrust.org.uk) or ring her on 020 8875 6763. If you want to learn more about our services for children and young people click here or email our U18s Services Manager Ella (Ella@backuptrust.org.uk) or call her on 020 8875 6764.

Back Up Fest Coming Soon

Back Up Fest Coming Soon

On August 19 2017, we will hold our first ever Back Up Festival. This event is the brainchild of our Youth Advisory Group who meet twice a year to influence and shape our U18s services. They came up with the idea of Back Up Fest as a social occasion where everyone affected by spinal cord injury can come together to celebrate and promote the work of Back Up – as well as have a lot of fun!

‘‘Back Up Festival was suggested by  the under 18s who form our Youth Advisory Group as an alternative social occasion to the Back Up Ball, which they generally do not attend. The original idea was to have a place where all our young members could come together. However, our Youth Advisors believed the idea of Back Up Fest seemed too good to limit our audience and decided that it should be an event run by young people but open to everyone!’’ said Alex Provan, who works in the community fundraising team.

‘‘We have an incredible group of young people working with us from youth advisors and young mentors to young wheelchair skills trainers and young group leaders – all of whom have contributed to putting this idea together.’’

The day itself will showcase different bands to suit all age groups, fun games and stalls. There will also be inspirational talks from members of the YAG as well as other speakers.

Everyone is welcome to attend and we hope that local communities and disability groups will get involved too.

To find out more about Back Up Fest, please email Alex (Alexandra@backuptrust.org.uk) or call her on 020 8875 6774.

Wheelchair Skills Extra | Getting around your city

Wheelchair Skills Extra | Getting around your city

In 2016, we decided to change the name of Join the Dots to Wheelchair Skills Extra.


 Many of you will be aware of our Join the Dots wheelchair skills sessions, which are held in town centres near many of the spinal centres in the UK. These community based sessions are an expansion of the original wheelchair skills programmes which we have been running since 2001. In these sessions, our experienced wheelchair skills trainers have given thousands of people life-enhancing confidence.

We’ve decided to change the name of these sessions to Wheelchair Skills Extra. This is to make it clear what these sessions offer and how they follow on from our sessions in spinal units, putting those skills learnt on the ward into practise in daily life.

We know that getting around as a wheelchair user can be frightening. How will I get to the shops, play with my kids or just carry a cup of tea to the living room? Wheelchair Skills Extra gives people the independence they need to get back to living their life to the full.

Held in ‘real-world’ locations outside the hospital setting, you get the chance to practise and refine your skills and build your confidence when out and about. We tackle everyday obstacles e.g. pavement and slopes and support you to overcome any worries you may have about being out in public for the first time as someone with a spinal cord injury. By the end of 2017, we aim to establish our sessions in all the spinal centres throughout the UK.

These sessions are kindly supported by Irwin Mitchell Solicitors and Gerald Simonds Healthcare. Anne Luttman-Johnson, Client Services Manager, Irwin Mitchell Solicitors commented:

‘We know first-hand what a difference Wheelchair Skills Extra makes to those about to leave their spinal injury unit into what can be a daunting world for someone using a wheelchair for the first time outside of their hospital environment. Irwin Mitchell employees volunteer at the different sessions round the country gaining so much from the experience.  Not only is it fun, but they also appreciate that this versatile and practical help means a lot more to those taking part in the next part of their rehabilitation programme.’

 Find out more by clicking here or contact us at outreachandsupport@backuptrust.org.uk or by telephone on 020 8875 1805

Beth’s story: Another Meaning For Independence

Beth’s story: Another Meaning For Independence

It could be thought that being dependent on others is the antithesis of being independent. However, as my injury limits the use of my lower and upper limbs, making me reliant on the support of personal assistants for many everyday tasks, independence takes on a slightly different meaning than it might conventionally evoke. My dependence on others does not prevent me from either pursuing my goals or having the freedom to choose what I do with my life; I gain my independence through ensuring that the support I receive enables me to do these things. However, it has not always been easy and it has been a massive learning curve to feel independent and happy with the support I receive.

Before I sustained a spinal cord injury in May 2009 I was a happy, (relatively) care-free, 18 year old rock-climber. Life was good: I had just learnt to drive, I was planning a year of travelling and climbing and I had a conditional place at the University of Sheffield for afterwards – I felt pretty free and I was excited for the future! However, upon breaking my neck in a car accident, I was faced with a new reality of life in a wheelchair, dependent on the support of others to help me to achieve my goals. In the 8 months I spent in Sheffield Spinal Unit and the 7 months I spent in a residential home waiting for my parent’s house to be adapted, I began to gradually accept my new situation. Defining moments include being told, just three weeks after my accident when I was still on the high dependency unit, that I should try not to get too down about not being at Glastonbury with my friends that day as I would be able to go next year in an off-roading wheelchair. At the time I hadn’t even sat up in bed properly, so the idea that I would need to use a wheelchair next year hadn’t even crossed my mind – I was still determined I would be able to climb again and go on the trips I’d planned! I also remember one night, probably 2 months post-injury, when I was told by a nurse that it was unlikely that I would gain any finger movement back and that people lived normal lives with the function I had but just needed PAs to help them. I struggled to comprehend how this was possible and how I would ever feel independent again.

This process of coming to terms with my situation and trying to feel “normal” and independent continued after I moved back to my parent’s house with a care package in place. This package consisted of having a team of 4 PAs with 1 PA working with me every 24 hours. It was a huge adjustment, not only for me but also for my parents, to get used to always having people in our space. To begin with, this sometimes prevented me from actually going out or doing things as I felt too conscious of needing support from my PAs.

I would sometimes limit what I did to only spending time with friends as I didn’t need a PA with me. I also struggled to find much in common with a couple of my PAs as they were 20 years older than me which made me feel self-consciousness around them. On top of this, it was incredibly difficult as a newly injured person to get used to telling people what I needed when I was still figuring out what worked well and what didn’t and what I could do without help. Often it was frustrating and I’m sure it was hard for my PAs too.

I spent only 6 weeks at home before I had to move away again to university and into student halls – this felt far too fast and I was not in any way prepared – I was still trying to adjust! My first semester was difficult as I lacked the confidence to put myself out there and meet new people which was important as I’m a sociable person and I didn’t live in a shared flat. I also felt held back by being in a wheelchair and having PAs around me constantly. But going on a Back Up ski karting course in Sweden at the end of my first semester was exactly what I needed to realise that things didn’t have to stay this way. The course was incredibly motivating and I came back with renewed confidence to take control of my life again.

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Beth in Sweden on our Ski Karting course

Skiing in Sweden really did give me the push to start thinking about changing my care team. The setup limited me to certain changeover times and I didn’t feel entirely comfortable around my PAs as they weren’t always reliable. But I continued with that team for 2 more years because – despite my new-found confidence – I was worried that changing everything might be worse. However, in 2012, at a Back Up mentor training weekend, I remember a new friend telling me how his live-in care package offered him the flexibility to do what he wanted whenever he liked, and how comfortable him and his girlfriend were living with PAs. This motivated me to make the change. (Incidentally, this is one of the best things about Back Up – it offers people with a spinal cord injury the opportunity to make friends with people in similar situations who truly understand and can help you overcome issues).

I now use an agency who provide me with live-in PAs who stay for 2 weeks at a time. I have some great regular PAs – my main one, who has become a good friend, works 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off. Sometimes I have new PAs as the job attracts young people who enjoy travelling but the care managers have a good understanding of who I’ll get along with and it usually works really well. This change has enhanced my independence as I have more flexibility in my life and I am happier and more comfortable with the people who work with me.

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Beth visiting friends

I have learnt a lot along the way (and will continue to do so) about how to ensure my relationships with my PAs work. I am by no means perfect, but these are a few of the most important things I have learnt:

  • Feeling comfortable with PAs is essential. It is a close two-way relationship so we both have to get along well with each other for it to work. Everyone has very different personality traits and it may be that sometimes these clash. I try hard to get along with everyone and give it time, but if it isn’t working I have learnt to be OK with starting with someone new.
  • My care is my responsibility. Firstly, it is important to not rely on PAs to think for me – I should be in control of my own life. This requires being organised and explaining what I need in an understandable way. That said, this has been a difficult skill to learn and I try not to insult a PA’s intelligence by explaining the simplest of tasks or confuse them by listing loads of things at once! This obviously gets easier the more someone gets to know me. Secondly, I try to do as much as possible for myself without help. Sometimes this is a mental battle as I have to weigh up the exhaustion and time spent trying to do something on my own against actually getting it done so I can get on with my day and focus on my other goals (of which I have many!).
  • It is important to be honest and open. If there is an obvious issue or there’s tension in the house, I find it works well to talk about it to try make things right again. Don’t be afraid to apologise or to compromise. For the relationship to work well, both people need to be happy.
  • Be sensitive to each other. It is also important to remember that everyone has bad days and gets moody at times, myself included. If this is the case and it’s something small, or one of us is just tired, sometimes it’s not worth saying anything and it will all blow over.
  • Space is important. Especially with live-in care, we both need time to ourselves. I live with my boyfriend so we can just go out or I can see my friends. I do appreciate it’s a very difficult job for PAs to put their own life aside to help me live mine. That’s why it’s important that they have time to relax and do what they want, like go to the gym or head out for a walk.

In this way, the relationship is about mutual respect and teamwork – my PAs do become good friends and I enjoy having them around.

My life has changed so much since I was struggling to adapt to being dependent on others. Now, aged 26, like many other people in my position, I lead a fulfilling and busy life. I graduated from university (with a first!) and I am now studying towards a Masters with the aim of becoming a solicitor. I enjoy a range of sports, from wheelchair rugby to sit-skiing, and I love to travel. My favourite trips include sailing on a tall ship down the coast of Brazil, skiing in Colorado and driving through Italy. I have an active social life, a great boyfriend and I enjoy volunteering for Citizens Advice Bureau and Back Up. Having support from others to get to this point doesn’t take away from this, it’s made all of it possible.

If you’d like to talk to us about issues surrounding your personal care team, please email our outreach team (outreachandsupport@backuptrust.org.uk) or call us on 020 8875 6723.

Back Up awarded ‘most deserving snowsport charity’ by SIGB

Back Up awarded ‘most deserving snowsport charity’ by SIGB

Back Up has won the Snow Sport Industries of Great Britain (SIGB) Foundation’s award for ‘most deserving snowsport charity’. The accolade comes with a grant of £4,000 which will be used exclusively to help fund the charity’s ski courses in 2017.


The funding for the £4,000 grant is courtesy of The Slide Industry Trade Show – owned and organised by SIGB. The 3-day tradeshow is specifically for snowsport retailers.

Back Up was founded in 1986 to provide ski courses for people affected by spinal cord injury. 30 years on, the charity’s services have greatly diversified but Back Up continues to offer two ever popular skiing courses.

This year, 14 people will have the opportunity to learn to ski with Back Up in Sweden and Colorado. The participants will be able to push themselves outside of their comfort zone in an exciting and supportive environment.

The award was presented at a ceremony at The International Centre in Telford. Anna Turney, former GB Paralympic skier and Back Up ski course participant, was Back Up’s ambassador on the night. The tradeshow preceded SIGB’s AGM where the award was presented. Damon Street, President of SIGB said:

Giving people who have sustained a life changing injury the chance to use skiing as a way to build confidence is fantastic. Back Up are a truly worthy recipient of the SIGB Foundation Award, and we are delighted we are able to contribute to their ski courses.”

Anna delivered a ‘passionate’ speech about the importance of Back Up’s work and the support it had given to her. Although the course isn’t for potential athletes, in the last 10 years alone 7 members of the GB Paralympic ski squad have been on Back Up’s skiing courses. After accepting the award, Anna said:

Coming back home after the huge challenge of learning how to ski on a Back Up course makes the everyday challenges faced by the spinally injured seem much more manageable. This opportunity is truly life-changing, so support from the UK snowsport industry is massively appreciated.”

To find out more about Back Up’s Sit Ski and Ski Karting courses click here, or contact our courses team on courses@backuptrust.org.uk or by telephone on 020 8875 6741.

Jemima’s story: The Push

Jemima’s story: The Push

I have always been a very active, outdoorsy girl. I love going out with friends, being sociable and spending as much time as possible with horses! I started riding at the age of two and, before the accident, I had my dream job working for a top event rider. As her Head Girl, I would look after all the horses and ponies and help train them for competition. I was very happy, working every day in a job that I loved and I had a great bunch of friends around me.

In May 2015, I was on my way out for a night of laughs and smiles with my mates. Never did we realise that five minutes down the road a life changing event was waiting for all of us. A van travelling in the opposite direction made the decision to overtake on a bend, hitting us head on, leaving me paralysed and, the worst part, taking my friend’s life.

The first few weeks after the accident are a complete blur. I can’t imagine how my parents and brothers must have felt seeing me in a coma and being told that I only had a 5% chance of survival. I was brought out of the coma four days after the accident and following two life-saving operations. My first memory was asking where my friend was. It was down to my father to tell me the news. I didn’t understand what he had told me and just felt very numb. I felt a lot of guilt that I had survived and my friend hadn’t so I struggled to start my rehabilitation as I didn’t think it was fair that I was still here. All my friends and family would tell me that she would want me to get better so I thought all I could do was fight.

I had many severe injuries as well as a complete spinal cord injury which left me paralysed from the waist down. After nearly a week I was transferred from Dorchester hospital to Salisbury spinal unit. They stabilised my spine and once that was done I started the long, gruelling process of rehabilitation.

What had happened to me never really hit home until about the third time I was hoisted into the wheelchair. My legs were just dangling there and I had no control over anything I was doing. I couldn’t believe this was now my life. I had gone from living on my own, riding horses everyday to being hoisted into a chair and having to push myself around to get anywhere. I felt like I had lost everything. It took a lot of courage to finally accept this was going to be my life from now on, but with the help of other patients and talking to them about their experiences, I finally felt like I was ready to start adjusting to my new situation.

When I started basic wheelchair skills and physiotherapy, I remember feeling weaker than I had ever felt. But the more I did, the more I started to feel more capable. Even just carrying a glass was hard at first, but they showed us how to make it possible. It was all about finding ways that suit you and working around the problems.  But being in a hospital is different to the world outside. Everything is easier there. The floors are smooth, doors open easily and everything is accessible to wheelchair users. I started to feel like I was in a protective bubble so I knew leaving that safe space was going to be a huge challenge.

The hospital staff told us about a charity called Back Up. They said if you ever get a chance to go on one of their courses, you have to go as you will learn so much. The Multi Activity course in Exmoor offered wheelchair skills training and activities such as cycling, canoeing and abseiling – things that I never thought I would be able to do after my injury. I was so nervous to go on the course as it was the first time away from my family since the accident and I really didn’t feel comfortable in my wheelchair yet.  But it was one of the best decisions I ever made. I came away from that week with so many new skills for using my wheelchair and felt much more confident.

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Jemima (second from left) on the Multi Activity course in Exmoor

The Snowdon Push was mentioned when I was on the course but it was only a month away at the time. It sounded like an incredible challenge, working with a team of people to reach the summit of Mount Snowdon in my wheelchair. I spoke to my friends and family and managed to get a team together, start fundraising and find a chair – in just one month! The team at Back Up were so encouraging and helped find a chair for me to use. At the time I remember saying to myself ‘are we really doing this?’ I think I was most nervous about actually having to camp. I was never a big fan of camping before but now I had a lot more worries: how am I going to get into a tent? what will I sleep on? where are the toilets? But despite my fears, it was so much fun (and I’ve never been so comfortable in a tent!)

The last thing I wanted to feel was that I was just sitting there whilst my friends and family were pulling and pushing me so I made sure that I was always vocally encouraging and supporting the team. I helped them by looking for the easiest route we could take up the mountain, and I made sure that everyone on the team was happy and motivated. I really felt like I was fully in control, through helping and inspiring everyone to reach the top.

It was such an amazing achievement that I never thought would happen. It just shows that a spinal cord injury doesn’t stop you living your life, you just have to be a bit more creative and adapt to new challenges. The highlight of the experience was when we crossed the finish line as a team all smiling and cheering. All the teams did an incredible job and everyone there supported each other and had a fantastic time.

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Doing the Snowdon Push made me realise how much was still possible for me. Since being back home, I have moved into a property by myself as I feel so much more capable doing things on my own. I am riding twice a week on a new pony that I bought and I’m working towards my first official para dressage competition. My main goal after the crash was to still be as active as I could be and Back Up have helped make that possible by introducing me to different activities and new people. Getting back to riding competitively will be a huge challenge for me, but with all the help and support that is around, I know I can do it.

If you would like to take part in this year’s Snowdon Push 30 June-2 July 2017, please contact Kat (Katherine@backuptrust.org.uk) to apply or request more information.