About Me

I was born in the uk in 1979. I have lived within 30 miles of London most my life. The house I grew up was just ordinary, but I spent most my time playing in the back garden or in friends gardens. I was never much good at being inside.

I got through school without trying too hard and by thinking about what I could do at the weekends. From the age of 11 I learned to sail a dinghy. I think my parents went with the idea because for £1.50 they got rid of me down the sailing club all day and had peace and quiet.

Discovering the mountains of North Wales

When i was 14 I started on the Duke of Edinburghs Award Scheme and got taken in a minibus to North Wales one morning. This was the first time I had seen a mountain. It was easter, there was snow everywhere, the weather was awful and I had to work hard to get through the 3 days walking and camping. I loved it. I had found somewhere where i felt truely alive and that I belonged to. Needless to say I spent many weekends in Snowdonia wildcamping over the next few years.

I cant remember when but it was sometime in this period that I decided I wanted to join the Royal Navy. Against my parents wishes I went and saw the recruitment officer and ended up in Portsmouth at the Admirality Interview board (3 days of tests) Much to the recruitment officer suprise I passed and was sponsored as an officer to go to Southampton University.

Uni life was good. I worked hard and played a lot of sport as well as spending time in the Mountains (Mid Wales this time) and having opportunities to try out things like gliding and parachuting and learning maths.

All went well until I contracted a virus which left me really ill. Over the next year I recovered slowly but not completely. A while later the hospital stepped in to do some more tests, the result of which was I walked into the hospital and came out in a wheelchair because I could not feel my legs.  I am just grateful that I can bear weight on my legs and get myself short distances on crutches, this has allowed me more freedom than I would otherwise have.

Kayaking in the Alps in 2011

Despite many visits to doctors no one has yet come up with a definitive answer to who my legs don’t work. I am now thinking maybe they wont give me an answer. So getting on with life seems the best option. So I decided to have a go at disabled sailing. I was really good at this collecting many UK national championships and a French one, but it didn’t give me the same buzz as sailing did pre injury. I have also done open canoeing and whitewater kayaking, including wilderness expeditions in Canada and Poland and whitewater in Bosnia and the Alps.  But although I enjoy paddling I’ve really reached my physical limits with it.

Portages are a bit harder in a chair!

Portages are a bit harder in a chair!

Since 1996 I have taught outdoor education at a centre near Guildford and I love what I do, but I have taught the sessions so many times that I was beginning to get bored. Looking around I found a masters degree course at Edinburgh University. I applied and got a place which is where the fun began as wheelchairs and outdoors dont got particually well together but uni have been exellent and made everything as easy as possible, including a field trip to the isle of Rum.

Part of the uni course was an alpine skiing week. Since I had never skiied even pre injury I thought that I had better learn so I didnt look stupid infront of my peers. I knew that it was possible to ski sitting down as I had seen someone doing it while i was having lunch in the restraunt at Cairngorm mountian. After a bit of research I found a charity called DSUK who teach people with disabilities to ski or snowboard.

Posing in Neideral

In March 2010 I had my first sitski lesson, on the beginner slope, which seemed very tall at the time. I progressed onto the main slope at the indoor snowdome and used to sit at the top worrying about the drop. I went to Austria with DSUK in Jan 2011 for my first skiing experience outdoors in the sunshine and it was amazing. I had to work hard but progressed a lot, the highlight of the week was a steep red on the last day.

Along came the university trip I had learnt to ski for in Teigns. That was an amazing week. I was accompanied by an amazing instructor and we had a super week, skiing to all corrners of the resort. The total for the week was lots of reds and some blacks. I impressed myself as I didnt think I could be that good.

After Teigns the indoor dome seemed tame so after some more investigation I found I could take lessons on how to race through gates. This would be a class with able bodied people in but it worked well.

By chance I found out about the combined services disabled ski team and to my suprise found I was eligable to join. Shortly after this I was offered to go to winter training with the British team development squad. I have spent the last few months indoors training hard  and am looking forward to the end of October 2011 when I finally get to train on real snow, and really start along my road to the winter paralympic games at Sochi in 2014.

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