Severely injured ex-England rugby star with Etac Balder F280 powerchair writes book

Matt Hampson with his Etac Balder F280 powerchair

Matt Hampson with his Etac Balder F280 powerchair

Etac Balder powerchair owner Matt Hampson, ex-England U21 tight-head prop, has recently launched his autobiographical book ‘Engage’ written with Paul Kimmage which tells Matt’s story before and after his life changing accident leaving him paralysed from the neck down, unable to breath without the aid of a ventilator.

High profile Matt Hampson nicknamed ‘Hambo’, 26 from Leicestershire, is a remarkable and inspirational individual who was a rising star in English rugby. Following his exceptional rugby performances at Syston RFC, he was selected by the Leicester Tigers Academy and continued to build upon his sporting prowess whilst juggling educational commitments at Queen Elizabeth College. During this time he trained alongside the likes of Austin Healey, Neil Back, Martin Cory and England World Cup winning Captain, Martin Johnson. He then progressed to playing for his country and achieved several under 19 caps and eventually became the first choice prop for the under 21’s alongside other fellow stars such as Toby Flood, James Haskell and Ben Foden. However during a routine training session on the 15th of March 2005, Matt sustained a neck injury following a scrum collapse that would change his life forever. Matt explains: “It was a cold grey day at a Northampton training ground and we were training hard as normal. During the session we set up a scrum and were given the command to ‘engage’. The scrum came together however both teams collapsed and I took the full force of both packs on my neck, which left me unable to breath or feel my arms or legs. Following this freak accident, I spent over 17 months recovering in Stoke Mandeville Hospital before I was well enough to return home as amongst many other issues I had to beat Clostridium difficile and confirm my ability to swallow. Without my family and friends I would never have made it”.

Now six and half years since his accident, Matt has rebuilt his life and is busy with many worthwhile causes which include his charity work, writing for Rugby World Magazine and coaching at Oakham school. Throughout all of his day-to-day work he is fully dependent on a team of ten carers and his Etac Balder F280 powerchair, which delivers mobility, comfort and the ability to travel in an accessible vehicle via its Automatic tie-down system. Matt controls his powerchair with a sensitive mini-joystick operated by his chin and his ventilator is neatly attached to the rear of the seat. The Etac Balder F280 is a Scandinavian-built, hi-tech electric powerchair that leads the market place in terms of functionality, reliability and flexibility whilst providing superb manoeuvrability through front wheel drive and a battery range of up to 34km on one charge.

Matt continues: “The Matt Hampson Foundation which we set up in early 2011 takes up the majority of my time however I am able to continue my passion for rugby through my coaching which i feel is the next best thing to playing. My Etac Balder has really good traction and power, hence I can comfortably drive onto muddy training pitches without the worry of getting stuck which really helps with being close to the action. Off the field, my foundation is committed to inspiring and supporting young people seriously injured through sport and I am glad to say we have already raised a substantial amount of money. In addition to the numerous high profile charity events and dinners we organise throughout the year, my new book ‘Engage’ and patrons such as my old team mate Martin Johnson, are helping to raise awareness and funds for injured young sportsmen and women. Writing the book with Paul over the past four years has been emotionally draining for me however the response I have received from people since the launch has been absolutely amazing. My recent interviews on national television and the serialisation of my new book in the Sunday Times has really helped raise awareness of my foundation. Knowing I have the support of so many people locally and nationally really helps motivate me on a daily basis and I fully believe in remaining positive. My rugby training taught me respect, discipline and control, which has given me the mental strength to tackle my new life and help as many people as possible along the way.”

Matt concludes: “My Etac Balder powerchair is a fantastic piece of kit and I am keen to help Etac with product development in the future, as I am always willing to pass on my experiences and knowledge that i have gained through living the last 6 and a half years of my life. Meeting people through my Foundation with similar disabilities to myself, inspires me and helps keep my life moving forward. I always will feel proud and privileged to have played rugby alongside so many stars who currently play for our country.”

Ian Carter, Etac Managing Director added: “Matt is a truly exceptional character and to show this continued grit and determination, which is clearly demonstrated in his book, is very inspiring. We wish him every success with his charity work and feel sure that his Etac Balder F280 will continue to meet his mobility needs now and in the future.”

The Matt Hampson Foundation can be found at: www.matthampsonfoundation.org

http://www.etac.com/en/etaccomuk/?redirect=true

SCOTTISH PAN-DISABILITY OPEN GOLF CHAMPIONSHIPS AT KINROSS GOLF CLUB 8 AUGUST

The TGA Breeze 4 Golf mobility scooter has been specifically designed to be suitable for use on golf courses. Pictured here earlier in the year with Graeme Robinson onboard alongside other members of the Disabled Golf Society based in England.

The TGA Breeze 4 Golf mobility scooter has been specifically designed to be suitable for use on golf courses. Pictured here earlier in the year with Graeme Robinson onboard alongside other members of the Disabled Golf Society based in England.

The UK’s leading mobility scooter specialist, TGA, is delighted to be supporting the Scottish Disabled Golf Partnership (SDGP) 2012 Open Championships at Kinross Golf Club (8–10 August)

The SDGP is a charity established in 2004 by Jim Gales who is registered blind and was awarded an MBE for his work in promoting disabled sport. The group currently has over 140 active members and is the only organisation of its kind in Scotland where disabled individuals have the ability to play golf irrespective of specific conditions. These conditions can include people diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, Arthritis and Parkinson’s and those recovering from a stroke. Amputees and individuals who are partially sighted or have reduced hearing can also take part and benefit from the support of the society, which manages around 40 ‘swing clinics’ and competitions throughout the year. The SDGP has evolved rapidly since inception and provides golf training and competition for many hundreds of people in addition to club members. The 2012 focus for the charity is to introduce youngsters, ex-armed forces personnel and individuals who have recently encountered disability to the game of golf. The TGA Breeze S4 Golf mobility scooter, which will be supporting the Open Championships this year, is a unique solution which helps these types of disabled individual access golf courses through design features such as fairway friendly wheels, ample battery range and an orthopedic, rotating seat with lift up arms.

Jim explains: “The health benefits of being able to play golf are endless, it is such a fantastic sport. Since we established the SDGP our membership numbers have grown steadily, however we are always looking for new members and quality product recommendations to help all golfers access the game. The TGA Breeze S4 Golf is one such solution as it has been specially designed for use on courses and is fantastically stable when you ride it. I would recommend it to all disabled golfers who need mobility assistance and thank TGA for their kind sponsorship of our competition here in Kinross. I invite all members of the press to attend the photocall on 8 August so we can raise awareness and funds for our charity and I will be available to answer any questions.”

The 12km/h (8mph) Breeze S4 Golf is a 4-wheel mobility scooter that is part of the renowned Breeze family from TGA. It has an established and respected reputation for providing exceptional reliability, comfort and build quality and the Golf version is adapted with wider wheels and a golf bag attachment. The wider tyres provide softer contact with fairways so that good traction is maintained without damaging the playing surface. It has a range of up to 32km (20 miles) with standard batteries onboard which deliver ample range for 18 holes and the Breeze can safely climb a 9.5 degree slope – perfect for manoeuvring around bunkers and out of bounds if needed.

Daniel Stone, TGA’s Managing Director concludes: “We have been a respected supplier of quality mobility scooters across the UK for 25 years and are always keen to support groups that promote health and well being for disabled individuals. We take our corporate social responsibilities seriously and as a company are delighted to be sponsoring the SDGP and wish all the disabled golfers well as they tackle the picturesque Kinross Club course. The Breeze 4 Golf is an adapted version of the model which won the extreme mobility scooter challenge on BBC Top Gear back in February and holds the prestigious Red Dot International Design Award.”

Location: Kinross Golf Club, Beeches Park, Kinross KY13 8EU
Date: 8-10 August 2012

www.tgamobility.co.uk

www.sdgp.co.uk

CHARITY FUNDRAISER NEARS COMPLETION OF ‘300 DAY, 300 MILE, 300 DIFFERENT WAYS’ QUIRKY CHALLENGE ON FUNKY TGA MOBILITY SCOOTER

Picture caption: Riding in style: Ryan DoubleDay takes to a funky TGA Vita 4 mobility scooter from Be Active Mobility for one of his final mile stage in his 300 day charity challenge. Picture from left to right: Dave Smith (Be Active Managing Director), Martyn Simpson (TGA Area Sales Manager), Ryan DoubleDay and Rob Lowe (Be Active Motability Manager).

Picture caption:
Riding in style: Ryan DoubleDay takes to a funky TGA Vita 4 mobility scooter from Be Active Mobility for one of his final mile stage in his 300 day charity challenge. Picture from left to right: Dave Smith (Be Active Managing Director), Martyn Simpson (TGA Area Sales Manager), Ryan DoubleDay and Rob Lowe (Be Active Motability Manager).

Ryan Doubleday, child bereavement support worker for the charity Nelson’s Journey based in Norwich, completes his amazing 300-mile, 300-day quirky fundraiser challenge on Friday 27 July which involved driving a funky TGA Vita mobility scooter from Be Active Mobility last week.

Nelson’s Journey supports children and young people under the age of 18, living in Norfolk, who have experienced the death of a significant person in their life eg. a parent or sibling. The charity was registered in 1997 and Ryan believes passionately in his work for the organisation as he lost both of his parents when he was a teenager. Ryan explains: “I can understand first hand how it feels to lose the support of someone really close to you when you are young. At that time there wasn’t really any type of group to turn to in this area and hence feel our work is absolutely essential. We offer help both at school and home for children experiencing bereavement and one of my personal highlights is taking the guys away on residential weekends where they can engage with other young people in a similar situation. Our support makes such a difference and hence inspired me to tackle this unique challenge.”

Last week Ryan was loaned a radical looking TGA mobility scooter from Be Active Mobility’s showroom in Norwich to complete one mile of distance which he has achieved everyday since 1 October last year. Be Active, the successful mobility product specialist which has just opened this additional showroom, were delighted to help Ryan on his way to the climax of his challenge this Friday that will involve a large ‘Conga’ in Norwich. Travelling by ‘cool’ scooter is one of 100’s of different methods of transport Ryan has used to reach his total, with requests from supporters that have bizarrely included:

·       Walking 1 mile in Wellington Boots full of custard

·       Two laps of an assault course with the Light Dragoons

·       Using stilts and a space hopper

·       Walking dressed as a Pantomime Horse

·       Rowing 1 mile in a Kayak in Mexico

·       Walking blindfolded backwards around a school playground

Dave Smith, Managing Director for Be Active Mobility concludes: “We fully admire Ryan’s level of commitment to complete this 300 day challenge and were delighted to provide a funky TGA Vita mobility scooter. Since opening our new shop in Norwich, we have been really busy with enquiries for this model as it has such a radical and eye-catching design for a mobility scooter. We wish Ryan well this Friday for the grand finale and feel confident he will smash his target of raising £1,500 for Nelson’s Journey which is a vital charity in the local area.”

To donate to Nelson’s Journey, visit: www.virginmoneygiving.com/ryandoubleday

www.tgamobility.co.uk

Bedford family prayers answered by EMS Stairlift Angels charitable initiative

From left to right: Alistair Burt MP, Ian Coster and Jane Coster

From left to right: Alistair Burt MP, Ian Coster and Jane Coster

Just when the Coster family from Cotton End, Bedford were beginning to give up hope of qualifying for a disabled facilities grant to fund a stairlift for their home; someone from their local church suggested they contact Hertfordshire based company EMS and apply for one completely free of charge as part of the STAIRLIFT ANGELS INITIATIVE.

58 year old Jane Coster who has a progressive condition which severely restricts her mobility and husband Ian had been told they were not eligible for a stairlift from the local authority and that instead they should seek a grant to build a downstairs bedroom and bathroom.

Understandably Jane, Ian and their three grown up daughters Becky, Rachel and Jen were very upset by this news, as Ian comments: “The prospect of having to wait several months for funding approval and planning permission then longer still to actually build an extension was devastating. Not least as largely dependent on myself, our daughters and the daily carers to get her up and downstairs my wife would have been left to struggle on in unnecessary discomfort for a long while to come. So imagine our relief when we discovered the STAIRLIFT ANGELS INITIATIVE; it seemed to us that our prayers had quite literally been answered.”

Once the Coster’s application had been accepted, the whole process to order, manufacture and install their ThyssenKrupp Access stairlift took less than five weeks. EMS Stairlifts Director, Mick Armstrong remarks: “It’s for exactly families like the Costers that the STAIRLIFT ANGELS INITIATIVE was intended. Jane has been a dedicated member of Cotton End Baptist Church for many years. She worked tirelessly on behalf of the children and young people in the area, running youth clubs, holiday camps, Sunday schools and many more activities besides. Having put so much into her local community it seems only right to give something back in her own particular time of need.”

Joining Mick Armstrong and fellow company director Thomas Sergeant at the Coster’s home last Friday to formally present Jane with her stairlift was her MP, Alistair Burt. Mr Burt who knew of the family through their involvement with a local charity, wholeheartedly endorsed this philanthropic gesture by EMS saying: “I am delighted to know there are companies who, despite the pressures of the current financial climate, are prepared to go out of their way and make a generous award like this to such a well deserving family.”

www.emslifts.co.uk

TGA & F1 crash surviving Steve Tarrant smash 24hr Scooter World Record at Mobility Roadshow

1.Disabled Steve Tarrant (Motorsport Marshal) who survived being hit by an F1 car travelling at over 100mph, celebrates his new Guinness World RecordTM with his support crew at the 2012 Mobility Roadshow (Peterborough Arena) on a TGA Breeze S4, 22 June 2012.

1.Disabled Steve Tarrant (Motorsport Marshal) who survived being hit by an F1 car travelling at over 100mph, celebrates his new Guinness World RecordTM with his support crew at the 2012 Mobility Roadshow (Peterborough Arena) on a TGA Breeze S4, 22 June 2012.

2. Steve completes his world record equaling lap on a TGA Breeze S4 at the Peterborough Arena Speedway Track 22 June 2012 after battling extreme weather and appalling track conditions.

2. Steve completes his world record equaling lap on a TGA Breeze S4 at the Peterborough Arena Speedway Track 22 June 2012 after battling extreme weather and appalling track conditions.

Steve Tarrant, 51 from Poole in Dorset, in association with TGA, the leading mobility scooter specialist, is now a new world record holder after travelling the furthest distance ever in 24 hours on a mobility scooter at the 2012 Mobility Roadshow (Peterborough Arena) whilst battling extreme track conditions and weather.

Steve Tarrant is an inspirational less able motorsport marshal who survived a highly publicised near-fatal crash incident at Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2000. He marshals at around 30-40 motorsport events per year such as the Le Mans 24 Hours, Petit Le Mans at Atlanta and Goodwood meetings. Steve lost a leg above the knee and suffered multiple injuries when an F1 racing car collided with him at over 100mph whilst marshaling on the finish line at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Steve managed to miraculously pull through following this terrible accident and has now just established a new Guinness World Record™ on a TGA Breeze S4 mobility scooter.

Steve endured a grueling 24 hours without sleep to achieve a distance of 173.287miles (278.88km) that equates to an unbelievable 830 laps of the Peterborough Arena Speedway Track. He drove from 14:04 21 June until 14:04 the following day, through the night in strong gusts and rain whilst only stopping for brief battery changes and visits to the toilet under the close guidance of his motorsport and TGA pit crew. This remarkable team provided mechanical support, timing adjudication and real time analysis over the full 24 hour period which gave Steve invaluable insight in terms of distance and time accrued and resulted in him securing the new record at approximately 11:39am on 22June 2012. He then continued for a further 2:21:30hrs so he could achieve the maximum distance under these conditions until the countdown clock stopped and the challenge was complete. Watched avidly by a crowd of well-wishers and all of his TGA support team, a mud covered Steve took the chequered flag by cooling raising his fist in a triumphant gesture and pulled to a halt for the press shots and interviews to begin.

The previous Guinness World Record™ for ‘The Greatest distance covered in 24 hours by a mobility scooter’ stood at 247.84 km (154 miles) and was achieved by Jackie Weeden on 15 May 2011.  Steve has now smashed this record in 24 hours as he explains: “Since surviving my horrific ordeal at Goodwood, I have always had a steely determination and even though I knew this was going to be extremely tough, I would not fail. When TGA approached me with this unique opportunity five months ago I simply couldn’t turn it down and would subsequently like to thank the whole company for their moral and mechanical support. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and know full well this challenge only had a successful ending thanks to my superb pit crew, TGA’s Service Manager Dom Thomas and my Breeze S4 mobility scooter that was faultless throughout the 24 hours. When you consider how appalling the track conditions became from the torrential rain, the TGA Breeze ploughed on relentlessly through thick, gritty mud and pools of water whilst remaining stable, comfortable and without loss of traction – an amazing piece of kit! If the track surface had been solid then I could have achieved much more distance however when you consider the difficulties we faced, myself and the team feel so proud to have exceeded the current record by over 25 miles. I never once thought we would fail but have to say at 3am in the dark the enormity of this challenge was crystal clear in my mind and was fully conscious I needed to push my mind and this machine to the absolute limit. When I reached the finish line at 14:04 on the 22June the adrenalin was still pumping and a sense of achievement overwhelmed me. Good luck to anyone who tries to beat this record, it’s a very tall order!”

Dom Thomas, TGA Service Manager directed all the engineering support, evidence gathering and batteries changes aided by members of Steve’s motorsport team who were responsible for timings and lap analysis. Guy Loveridge, Colin Worth, Luke Morris, Susan Watson and Steve Sutton all with extensive motorsport knowledge were joined by Paramedic Steve Humphrey and specialist first aid rescuer Chris Horan and Steve’s wife Sirje throughout the event. TGA were showcasing their complete product range in the main exhibition hall of The Mobility Roadshow as this event took place and Daniel Stone, TGA Managing Director regularly visited the trackside to cheer Steve on. Daniel commented: “Steve’s personal achievement here in Peterborough should not be underestimated. Bearing in mind what he has experienced in his life and his restricted mobility, to successfully beat this world record in dreadful weather and on a highly taxing and unstable surface is highly impressive. The team and I had complete faith in him and the Breeze completing the 24 hours, however it is only through Steve’s unparalleled grit and determination that this new record has been achieved. The TGA Breeze is renowned for market leading reliability and performance and I believe that this extreme 24-hour product test further reiterates why this model continues to be first choice for peace mind across the UK. Well done Steve, you are an inspiration.”

Steve drove for 24 hours to raise donations for two charities –

To donate to Accessible Motorsport, please send a PayPal donation to: stevetarrant.recordattempt@virginmedia.com

To donate to the Royal British Legion, please donate via: www.justgiving.com/steve-tarrant

 www.tgamobility.co.uk

www.mobilityroadshow.co.uk

Theraposture and BBC DIY SOS ensure Eric can remain at home with MND

1. Davina, Eric’s wife, thanks Phil Reed (left) and Sean Donnelly (right) from Theraposture for the kind donation and installation of a specialist assistive bed for their DIY SOS ‘Big Build’ home make-over in Enfield, North London. 2. Eric Rivers who has Motor Neurone Disease and his wife Davina are now enjoying a vastly improved quality of life thanks to the donation of a specialist assistive bed from Theraposture.

1&2. Davina, Eric’s wife, thanks Phil Reed (left) and Sean Donnelly (right) from Theraposture for the kind donation and installation of a specialist assistive bed for their DIY SOS ‘Big Build’ home make-over in Enfield, North London.
3. Eric Rivers who has Motor Neurone Disease and his wife Davina are now enjoying a vastly improved quality of life thanks to the donation of a specialist assistive bed from Theraposture.

Eric Rivers, 45, from Enfield north London, is terminally ill with Motor Neurone Disease but can now continue to be cared for at home thanks to a complete house make-over by BBC DIY SOS and the donation of a high quality double combination assistive bed by Theraposture of Westbury, Wiltshire.

Theraposture Ltd is a privately owned, family run business and has been the leading specialist in bespoke assistive furniture for over three decades. When approached by BBC researchers to assist with a DIY SOS ‘Big Build’ in Enfield, the Westbury team were more than delighted to oblige as Liam Braddell, Sales Director explains: “Our business is first choice for most Healthcare Professionals, charities and less able individuals looking for handcrafted, tailor-made assistive furniture which blends effortlessly into anyone’s home. The BBC were looking for a bed that combined height adjustment and profiling capabilities, which would perfectly meet the needs of Eric and his wife Davina, who were desperate to stay in their own home. They also needed many adaptations to their two-bed terraced house so that the space was practical both for everyday living and as a care environment. Without a high quality, specialist profiling bed, Eric would not be able to remain at home due to the levels of pain he was enduring at night and his wife was desperate for a good nights sleep. The Theraposture bed became the main focal point of the whole TV show.”

Liam continues: “The 5’6” wide double combination bed we donated encompasses two separate sleeping platforms with full profiling and high adjustment for Eric and a static side for Davina. This allows the couple to continue sharing a bed whilst benefitting from independent function on Eric’s side so that Davina is not disturbed during the night. The profiling allows Eric to position himself so that comfort is maximised and the height adjustment ensures getting in and out of bed is safe and controlled. As the bed consists of two separable halves locked by a latching device, it can be split and one half moved easily on smooth rolling castors so that Davina has access to both sides of Eric’s mattress. This is essential for her so that the risk of back injury is minimised whilst caring or hoisting Eric in the future. The two individual bed surrounds and wall mounted headboard were upholstered in a contemporary fabric chosen by the DIY SOS on-set designer Gabrielle Blackman to match the new bedroom colour scheme. A multi-positional grab handle was also added to Eric’s side of the bed to assist him with repositioning during the night and when standing up. Both sides were equipped with a Theraposture luxury pocket sprung mattress which delivers exceptional postural support.”

Eric was diagnosed with Motor Neurone disease 18 months ago, which is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that leads to weakness and wasting of muscles. Eric, his wife (51) and three daughters (aged 6, 11 and 13) were nominated for the TV programme by two close friends who felt they desperately needed help especially as their compact house was unsuitable for all their needs. Eric and Davina had always shared their room with their youngest daughter and access upstairs was becoming impossible hence one of their friends approached the BBC. Following an initial visit the TV researchers unfortunately concluded their house was too small for a ‘Big Build’, however their friend did not accept this and began tweeting Nick Knowles on Twitter, the DIY SOS celebrity presenter, for several months until the decision was reversed.

Following the nine-day build which involved the addition of an extra loft bedroom, a vertical mobility lift, wet room and comprehensive structural and aesthetic redesigns, Eric and his family’s new home was revealed to them by Nick and the BBC crew. This emotional unveiling also gave Eric chance to thank the large number of tradesmen and suppliers, including Theraposture, who had contributed to this life-changing gift. This project along with the provision of the specialist assistive bed from Theraposture, meant Eric could remain in the comfort of his own home, surrounded by his family and expensive care costs could be avoided.

A few weeks after the programme had been filmed, the difference the Theraposture bed had made to Eric’s life was considered to be ‘phenomenal’ by himself and his family. Eric concludes: “The improvement in my mobility since owning a Theraposture bed is absolutely astounding and I can honestly say the change has been almost instantaneous. My physiotherapist has been so impressed with the reduction in my leg spasms and the stiffness in my legs is not so pronounced. Before I slept on my new Theraposture bed, I was in constant pain during the night and regularly would have to get up which left me feeling extremely drained during the day. Now I have the capability to position myself independently and can rest at the perfect angle of elevation without disturbing Davina who is now enjoying the best nights sleep in over 12 months. We are both more active during the day and our children’s quality of life has also vastly improved. The bed relieves pressure on my muscles and breathing at night is so much easier. This bed is truly ‘magical’ and alongside the BBC and all the tradesmen who were involved with the makeover, I cannot thank Theraposture enough for this life-changing donation. I would like the Motor Neurone Disease Association to recommend Theraposture beds to all people affected by this condition.”

www.theraposture.co.uk

www.mndassociation.org

Etac powerchair owning Para-equestrian seeks Paralympic dream

Susie Rogers-Hartley is an Etac Balder F280 powerchair owner and prolific Para-equestrian event winner from Oxfordshire. Despite having a spinal injury which restricts use of her legs, she has won numerous competitions and regularly competes against able-bodied and disabled riders with the help of her Etac powerchair.

Susie Rogers-Hartley is an Etac Balder F280 powerchair owner and prolific Para-equestrian event winner from Oxfordshire. Despite having a spinal injury which restricts use of her legs, she has won numerous competitions and regularly competes against able-bodied and disabled riders with the help of her Etac powerchair.

Susie Rogers-Hartley is an Etac Balder F280 powerchair owner and prolific Para-equestrian event winner from Oxfordshire. Despite having a spinal injury which restricts use of her legs, she has won numerous competitions and regularly competes against able-bodied and disabled riders with the help of her Etac powerchair.

Susie is currently based at Alden Equicentre near Upton in Oxfordshire which is one of the official Olympic Equestrian Training Camps. Susie has successfully qualified for the 2012 Paralympics with her 10 year old Irish horse ‘Shamus’ and may ride for Team Hong Kong if she can prove her dual nationality.

Susie started riding at the age of four when she attended St. Mary’s private school in Hasting which had a riding school nearby and was famed for teaching celebrities such as Joanna Lumley. She quickly progressed to entering competitions and became an extremely competent and experienced rider through her teenage years and twenties.

As global travel had always excited her, she decided to join the British Royal Navy in 1998 as it offered Susie the opportunity for a rewarding career stationed across the world. However during a routine training exercise on a physical assault course in 2002, she sustained a severe back injury that left her without mobility from the waist down and needing the permanent use of a wheelchair to remain mobile.

Susie explains: I had always enjoyed a very active life from running marathons to my beloved horse riding so as you can imagine this type of injury was devastating. I was discharged from the Navy and then had to look at rebuilding my life however I found it extremely tough. I lost all my confidence, became introvert and couldn’t even steer a wheelchair in a straight line. Nevertheless my perspective on life was to dramatically change in 2003, when I was given the opportunity to attend a Back-up Trust multi-activity course on Exmoor which included horse riding for the less able.”

Susie continues: “This course included hacks in association with the RDA (Riding for the Disabled Association) which allowed me to once more sit in the saddle which was totally amazing. Being able to see the world from up high made me wake up from a bad dream, it was a true turning point in my rehabilitation.

As time went on, I was also lucky enough to be able to buy my own horse, William, which then really allowed me to begin training, jumping and competing again on a regular basis. There was however still one major issue to be resolved – my mobility. I was struggling to access the livery, moving around the yard took too much time and mounting my horse was very difficult. This was all to change in 2008 with the purchase of my new Etac Balder F280 powerchair, which met all my day-to-day mobility needs at the stables and during competitions.

This was a memorable year for me as my newfound mobility also coincided with the purchase of my new horse Shamus from Stephen Hendry of Kent Horse Producers. My Etac powerchair is so robust and sturdy and even though it is not a specialist off-road mobility vehicle, I can still easily drive around fields and over rough rural terrain when attending to Shamus. It delivers excellent range through high capacity batteries and the fact that the sit raises so high, I can lift myself up to a position which allows easy mounting onto Shamus. I’d be lost without my F280 as it provides superb manoeuvrability and flexibility around the stables when I am cleaning, feeding and mucking out whilst the tyre tread delivers excellent traction.

I previously owned another brand of powerchair however it’s functionality was not varied enough for my lifestyle and the F280 fits practically in my horsebox when travelling to competitions.”

Susie’s current accolades include winning the RDA National Championships (GRADE I – 70cm) last year, British Novice 70-80cm classes 2010 and finishing in the top five at La Baule and Vimeroy, France. Susie hopes that showjumping will have become a Paralympic sport by Rio 2016 in addition to dressage. Susie concludes: “Shamus and I always enjoy training hard and even though we have achieved so much together, thanks in part to my Etac powerchair, winning an Paralympic showjumping medal would be the ultimate dream.”

http://www.etac.com/en/etaccomuk/?redirect=true