On 2nd October 2006 I had a road traffic accident which resulted in me breaking my neck and damaging my spinal cord at C6 complete.  This left me completely paralysed from the chest down and with limited strength and dexterity in my arm and hands.  I travelled via the Air Ambulance straight to Stoke Mandeville Hospital where I spent the next eight months doing my rehabilitation.

I was always a keen sportsman and sport played a massive part in my coming to terms with my accident.  

I played football to a good standard before my accident, so the natural progression was to turn to another team sport - wheelchair rugby.  I played for London and was in the Great Britain development squad, but after a few injuries and three shoulder operations, I sadly had to quit rugby.

With not playing any sport I went through a bit of a low patch until I went to a wheelchair tennis taster day after the Rio Olympics.  I hadn’t ever played an individual sport before and I fell in love straight away and enjoyed that it was all on you.  Since I started in 2017, I have gone on to be National quad singles champion four times in wheelchair tennis.  I qualified the Play Your Way To Wimbledon finals and got to play on the grass courts there, won two International doubles titles and represented Great Britain at the World Team Cup in 2023 becoming a colour holder* and have been called up again in 2024.

Gary at Wimbledon

In 2015, I got married to my wife Jess and we had our first child Maxey and in 2021 we had our second child Marney.  We live in social housing and, in 2022, we had a problem with the shower seat in our home where it wasn’t fitted correctly which resulted in it coming off the wall and leaving me unable to shower.  It was a nightmare trying to get this fixed and back on the wall and it went on for months, so that’s when we enlisted the help of Aspire.  The Aspire Housing Team were great as they managed to get this sorted for me and it was good to have someone to help fight our corner.

Frankie, Aspire’s Housing Advisor, communicated on our behalf with the Housing Association and took a lot of stress and pressure off me and my family.  She even advised us in progressing the complaint and ensured a suitable temporary replacement of the shower unit.

Since then, Aspire has also helped with the local housing association in getting us re-banded as we are living in a two bed bungalow with two children.  Frankie wanted to prevent us having to move twice in a short period of time, so ensured the housing association was aware of the impacts of my disability and the long term effects of needing space for my medical equipment and space to be a regular dad who can put his kids to bed and read them a story.

*A colour holder is someone who has been called up to represent Great Britain at a professional tournament.  Gary was the 322nd person to do so, and that includes non-disabled and wheelchair players.  For context, Sir Andy Murray is 256!

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