It’s been a while since I last did a blog post. My ski season ended pretty abruptly after I broke some further ribs when I was back skiing again. It wasn’t a bad crash but the doctor concluded it must have been a hairline fracture from the previous time, and my ribs were fractured on the second impact. I was absolutely gutted, especially as I still would have had time to come back for the Austrian and British National Champs. So it was time to leave those beautiful mountains and my friends in America and come home.
It wasn’t much fun having broken ribs again, although this time they were lower down, below my injury level, so they weren’t as painful. But I had to rest and steer clear of physical activity for another 4-6 weeks. I found this really hard, combined, with suddenly having a lot of time on my hands. I was starting to feel really low and I think that’s from missing out on getting any exercise or really much moving at all.
I was due to start working part time at Back Up anyway but I was getting worried about how I would fill my time. Turns out I had no need to worry when I got a call from the events manager at Back Up asking if I’d come in and take a full time role there as the person meant to be filling in had been struck down with glandular fever. They had their biggest corporate fundraiser event coming up so were in pretty desperate need of an assistant.
The time I was in the role was extended and I’ll be there through June too. It’s been an interested experience and I’ve learnt a lot. Particularly interesting for me as events was the area in which I working at the time of my accident in 2011. I realise that I do prefer (and am probably better at) the services side of Back Up – I love being on ‘the front line,’ meeting newly injured people and being a possibly being a lifeline for them at their most vulnerable. Just as I was back then. But it’s been great to be busy, have learnt lots and to see a different side to the charity.
I’d been anxious to get back on the water again, feeling like a part of me was missing in a way, and a month after my fracture, I was back! It was great and I thankfully hadn’t lost too much of my strength after being out of action for so long. Since then I’ve been heading to the lake whenever possible, skiing in the course with the coach on the boat which has been great. I’m now looking to get my own ski and frame so I can start competing.
Things have been busy aside from work and play. I’ve had a few great experiences which I wanted to write about. One of them was my day at Silverstone with Spinal Track who are a fantastic non-profit run by Nathalie McGloin and her partner Andrew. A tetraplegic who was injured at 16, Nathalie is the first female with a spinal cord injury in the UK to be granted their race car license. She races a Cayman S in the Porsche Club Championships.
The initiative allows disabled drivers to learn to control a full-on, 200-odd horsepower, hand control-adapted Volkswagen Golf GTI racing car around Silverstone. It was an absolutely exhilarating experience, I couldn’t really believe that I was being allowed to drive at 100mph+ around the track at Silverstone! It was a really amazing thing to do – certainly one that I won’t forget. I was encouraged to spread the word so if you’re interested in having a go (and require hand controls to drive) then get in touch with them via their website spinaltrack.org/.
I’ve also started doing a bit of public speaking. I was asked a while back to speak at a Riding for the Disabled Conference at Newbury race course in front of a large audience of people involved with the charity, including HRH The Princess Royal. The theme was Breaking Boundaries which I was happy with as I feel like I want to do try and do that in most areas of my life these days! I was pretty nervous, especially when I saw the audience of over 300 people, and despite feeling thirsty throughout my talk (!) managed to pull it off! It was a great experience and I look forward to more opportunities in the future. I’ll have this down to a fine art in no time with any luck!
I also spoke at a primary school in Clapham where the theme was ‘inspirational women’ – I was very flattered to be asked and I hope I did the theme justice! Both talks were to a very different age group and type of audience. I had to adapt quite a lot to my presentation on seeing the reception age children sitting cross legged in the front row! But I got some good feedback from both after and, when I’d finished, I really enjoyed both experiences.
Finally I get round to sharing a piece of exciting news with you. Each year British Parasnowsport (formerly the British Disabled Ski Team) decide on the structure of the team and which athletes are included in different parts of the team. After finishing the season early, I wasn’t feeling very confident that I was going to be invited to join the development team, particularly as I didn’t get to take part in most of the races I intended to. However, I’m thrilled to report that I have been invited to join the British Parasnowsport Development Team after all! I’m really pleased and it’s nice to feel properly part of the team. I can’t wait to get back onto snow again during training camps. First one I’m attending is in August in Landgraaf in Holland. Another road trip in my trusty Golf is on the cards - with significantly lower horsepower than that one at Silverstone of course! Bring it on!