As you may have read in Why FWS? I’ve had to use a wheelchair for over 20 years. In the first few years, I found it pretty hard to deal with. I used to go out but would stick to my local area and not venture too far away. I think I was scared of the unknown – would I be able to get into a toilet? How would I feel in crowds? Perhaps, inevitably, I made a lot of mistakes and spent a lot of time on bed rest due to bumps and scrapes from not using my wheelchair correctly. After being re-admitted to the hospital 6 years after my injury, I was encouraged to attend a course with a Spinal Injuries organisation called Back Up. I went to the Lake District and attended a multi-activity course with them and I came back a different person! After the course, I had more courage to venture further, even on my own sometimes. I remember after I attended the course, I was out with a few mates on a weekend and one suggested we went clubbing – just on the spur of the moment. It was my first experience of the trains and the London Tube network (I did need carrying up and downstairs in some Tube stations. Unfortunately for mobility-impaired travellers, not all Tube stations have access). As a group, we ended up in a London nightclub, and in the VIP area just because I was a chair user – QUALITY!
I’ve had a few jobs over the years. I got my first job 18 months after discharge from the hospital. I worked on a production line for a company making mobile phone antennas. I held this job for 7 years and ended up as a Prototype Surface Mount Engineer. The job finished because the company relocated. I then worked in a number of different fields, even a major supermarket, but most recently, after volunteering with them for a number of years, I got a job with Back Up. At Back Up I worked in the Outreach Team supporting people with Spinal Injury to make positive changes in their lives. Part of the role was teaching wheelchair skills, and I was involved in writing the Back-Up Wheelchair Skills Manual which is a guide to support new wheelchair skills trainers. Over the years I have taught wheelchair skills in many hospitals around the country and on Back-Up courses. In training sessions, I taught people from a wide range of backgrounds and different ages, including children and older adults, and discovered I had a passion for seeing people develop these skills and the difference they could make in their lives.
I got married seven years ago and I now have a young son. Over the years I’ve tried my hand at a few different hobbies like fishing and wheelchair basketball, but these are the pastimes I like best.
- Family Time. Spending time with my family, especially on holidays. Sightseeing in the UK and abroad, including a honeymoon tour of Canada, driving the Garden Route in South Africa in a BMW series 3 with hand controls (not bad considering I only ordered a Honda!), sweating in Spain and in Florida (I don’t do well in the heat).
- Live music. Big arena venues and summertimes in the park. My top 4 live acts would have to be Paul Weller, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, and Jamiroquai.
- Curry. Especially good with mates.
- The Great Outdoors. Country walks in the woods or down by the river. My wife and I are walking the Thames Path – not in one go!, just trying to do it all eventually.
- Growing vegetables in my raised beds at the bottom of the garden.
- Watching England play football at Wembley.
- Keeping fit. I regularly go for a push on my own with my headphones on, great on a Spring evening! I try to go out on my hand bike when the weather permits it.
- Cinema. You can’t beat watching films on the big screen.
- Reading. I love reading. Favourite authors include Jack Higgins, Simon Scarrow, Chris Ryan and Scott Mariani.
Dislikes (or Things that wind me up)
- People who drive all the way round mini-roundabouts!
- People driving whilst holding a mobile to their ear – how much does hands free cost?
- People driving wearing shades when it’s overcast.
(Perhaps I spend too much time in the car?)