I sustained my spinal cord injury on 31st August 2023 whilst on holiday in Fuerteventura with my family.  We were involved in a terrible accident because of a car driving into the café we were eating in.  At the age of 34 years old and with a young family, it was a massive shock and I wondered what my life would look like and how was I going to be a mum, wife and nurse.  After sustaining my injury in that way, everything in my life changed.

Before my injury I was a very busy mum to five children aged between 16 and 5 years old.  I am a registered nurse and was working as a matron in a care home.  With everything involved in being a mum, taking them to school, friend’s houses and clubs plus working in a role I enjoyed, I used my free time to visit the gym and loved yoga.  I tried to find time to visit the gym four to five times a week as it was the time I could process and think, plus gave me some time for me!

The impact the accident and my injury had on my whole family was massive, all my family and friends were broken and concerned for my future.  My husband Luke and sister stayed in Spain with me until I was fit to fly back to the UK, looking back they were wonderful.  My time in hospital over in Spain was horrible due to the language barrier, but also as I am a nurse I am aware of the standard of care I required and got very frustrated when it wasn’t meeting that standard.  Thankfully once I returned to the UK, I received impeccable care in both St Mary’s London and Stanmore Spinal Injury Centre.  The team in Stanmore are great and the therapy input was brilliant.

It was when I was transferred to Stanmore that I first met Lindsay, an Aspire Independent Living Advisor.  She visits the centre once a week and I remember meeting her one day on the ward and we just started to chat.  

During my time in Stanmore I spoke to Lindsay about lots of different topics such as bladder, bowels, sex, relationships, going out, accessibility when out, life in general, how to adapt my house, wet rooms literally everything.  I really feel like I wouldn’t be where I am today without Lindsay, her knowledge and support.  Looking back, I think if I hadn’t have met Lindsay I would have felt very alone during my time in the Spinal Injury Centre.  

I had some very personal questions and concerns that I would not have asked or shared with anyone else and so they would have gone unanswered.  I think discussing going out and socialising really helped and I wonder if she hadn’t shared her experiences if I would have been less likely to be socialising as much now, she gave me so much confidence.

Harriet with her children
After four months in hospital, I was discharged home which was great.  I think going home for day trips and weekends really helped to prepare me for being home.  It was a big adjustment for both me and my family so having that transition bridged was really beneficial. It’s been a massive adjustment for us all, but we are getting there, there have been frustrations and disappointments and community services run so slowly, but we are persevering. 

I feel like meeting Lindsay has been invaluable, she gave such amazing tips and advice that have really helped me to live more independently. 

Aspire would like to thank Scottish Power Foundation for supporting Aspire's Independent Living Service in eight Spinal Injury Centres around the UK. 

Independent living

Personal stories

How we help