Here’s a bit more about me.
As you may have read in Why FWS? I’ve had to use a wheelchair for over 25 years. In the first few years, I found it pretty hard to deal with. Back then I’d go out, but I 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? 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.
Readmition to hospital
After being re-admitted to the hospital six 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! Following the course, I had more courage to venture further, especially on my own sometimes.
Post course courage
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). Together, we ended up in a London nightclub. And were given access to the VIP area, admittedly just because I was a wheelchair user – QUALITY!
I’ve had a few jobs over the years. I got my first job 18 months after discharge from the hospital. This job involved working 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 due to the company relocated. As a result, I then worked in a number of different fields. Even a major supermarket. Most recently, after volunteering with them for a number of years, I got a job with Back Up, one of the Uk spinal injures charities.
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 have come to realise there are many more wheelchair users in the country that don’t get the benefits of peer-led wheelchair skills training. This is why I have started up Freedom Wheelchair Skills.
Now I’m married 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 my current pastimes.
- 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)
- Drivers who go all the way round mini-roundabouts!
- People driving whilst holding a mobile to their ear – how much does hands free cost?
- And people driving wearing shades when it’s overcast.
(Perhaps I spend too much time in the car?)