As we come to the end of 2016, we’d like to share some of the stories from our fantastic community fundraising team. Click here to get involved in 2017!


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Mike Wigney at the London to Paris start line

Mike Wigney: London to Paris bike ride

How did you get involved with Back Up?

I heard about Back Up during my rehabilitation at Stoke Mandeville. Six years later I signed up to my first course and attended the Exmoor Multi Activity course. I had always been a keen cyclist so as soon as I left Stoke I started hand cycling, but what I really wanted to experience from the course was how everything else in a wheelchair would work. I definitely found this out, with the added bonus of getting involved in wheelchair rugby!

What motivated you to take on this challenge and what did you get from the experience?

After Exmoor I subscribed to the Back Up newsletter and saw that they were looking for a team to ride from London to Paris. I had thought about doing a challenge like this before, but it was only when I saw this that I seriously considered it and signed up! I’ve had my hand bike for 14 years and this was the longest ride I had ever done on it. It was also the first time that I had actually trained for something.  I went for a ride every weekend up until the challenge.

Would you recommend it to someone else?

I would definitely recommend this to everyone. It was fantastic event that had the right level of challenge with an excellent group of people. Everyone had a really close connection to spinal cord injury. I was also surprised at how much everyone got along for such a large group. I’ve never experienced anything like it! If the next cycle challenge is anything like London to Paris, it will be fantastic.


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Sam Bick just after finishing her abseil of Spinnaker Tower

Sam Bick: Abseiling Spinnaker Tower

How did you get involved with Back Up?

I first got involved with Back Up in 2015, when I attended one of their residential activity courses held in Belfast.  I met some amazing and inspiring people and had a fantastic time. The course was so worthwhile and allowed me to turn my life around by rebuilding my confidence and independence as a wheelchair user.

What motivated you to take on this challenge and what did you get from the experience?

This year, Back Up turned 30 so I decided to give something back to the charity that held a special place in my heart. I decided to abseil down Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth with my five friends Jenny, Rosemary, Sandie, Tony and Phillip.

The day itself was really hot with very minimal wind which is the perfect weather for an abseil. Although this didn’t help calm my nerves! The scary bit was hanging in mid air waiting to be told to go! But the health and safety guys explained everything we had to do to commence our descent and put us well at ease. Everyone had helmets on which had go pro cameras attached and we were told to look all around during the abseil so we could watch our descending views (if we were brave enough!).

As a wheelchair user I could only use the ropes to get down but I still had an amazing time and it didn’t make any difference not being able to use my legs. The views were fantastic and it was a totally thrilling experience. The highlight for me was actually taking part and proving to myself I could do it and anything really is possible!

Would you recommend it to someone else?

I would highly recommend anyone taking part in the abseil, whether you are a disabled person or not. If you are looking for a great thrill and a different challenge this is something you will certainly enjoy. Spinnaker tower has the most amazing views of the sea and Portsmouth. The help and support I received as a wheelchair user from all the abseiling team was fantastic.


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James in the middle of his walk

James Slater: London to Cambridge walk

Tell me a bit about your involvement with Back Up?

I came to know Back Up as a result of my dad having an accident roughly two years ago when out walking on holiday. He broke his neck after slipping on a sea wall and falling 16 feet. After being moved between several different hospitals he was finally transferred to Stoke Mandeville hospital for his rehabilitation. We were first introduced to Back Up when we met some volunteers from the charity on a family and friends evening on the ward. They were really helpful while dad was adjusting to his injury and he’s still involved with them now. He’s even decided to attend one of their courses next year.

What motivated you to take on this challenge and what did you get from the experience?

I decided quite quickly that I wanted to do something for one of the charities that had helped my dad. I asked him which charity he would have chosen and he said Back Up. I came across the 100km walk from London to Cambridge and decided this was the challenge I wanted to undertake.  Taking on the 100km walk was one of my biggest achievements. I was in quite a lot of pain towards the end and wasn’t sure I’d be able to complete it. However, my determination and will power to complete the challenge helped me over the finish line. I powered through and completed the walk in 23hrs and 40 minutes. I had an absolutely amazing level of support from my friends, family, colleagues and even strangers. There were times during the training and the walk itself that I had moments of doubt but the overwhelming support I received from everyone was such a huge motivating factor – I couldn’t believe the amount of people who got behind my challenge and sponsored me.

Would you recommend it to someone else?

I’d definitely recommend doing it. Sometimes it can be difficult to find the time but it’s definitely worth it. It was the first time I had ever done something like this and the sense of achievement I felt when I completed it was incredible. I enjoyed it so much that I am taking on the London to Brighton challenge next year and I’ve been trying to motivate other members of my family to do something too!

Thanks to Sam, Mike and James and all our absolutely fantastic community fundraisers in 2016! Your passion, determination and hard work has raised over £90,000 for our vital work. If you’d like to make a huge difference to the lives of people with spinal cord injury, fundraise for us in 2017! To get involved click here, or email Kat (Katherine@backuptrust.org.uk).

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