From injury to never giving up an active lifestyle “I was an active, sports-mad, PE and Outdoor Pursuits teacher when I sustained my spinal cord injury”, Deborah says. She was injured whilst rock climbing on a mountain in North Wales and was instantly paralysed from the chest down. Deborah says: “It’s amazing how in just a split second something can go wrong and it changed your life forever. If I hadn’t worn my helmet I wouldn’t be here today.” After her rehabilitation at Southport Spinal Injury Centre, Deborah retrained as a primary school teacher and taught for 21 years after her injury. She also coached the school netball team went on to win the area’s championship. She says: “At competitions I loved seeing other teams faces trying to work out why I was there, as well as some of the parents, as if they were thinking ‘how on earth could she coach a netball team?' “I enjoyed it though. I felt like it educates them – that people in a wheelchair can still do all sorts of things. It also teaches the children I teach in class that if I can do all of these things then they can do anything." “At competitions I loved seeing other teams faces trying to work out why I was there, as well as some of the parents, as if they were thinking ‘how on earth could she coach a netball team?" After her injury she continued her active lifestyle and took up fencing which took her to the 1988 Seoul Paralympics representing Great Britain. She also trained her dog Dillion to be an assistance dog and help her with everyday tasks that she struggled to do. She learnt how to give him free runs in the park, on the beach, in the woods and countryside as he loved the outdoors as much as Deborah. Keeping active in a manual wheelchair put a lot of strain on Deborah’s arms and shoulders and so she looked in to other options. It was clear that if she wanted to continue her active lifestyle she would need a four-wheel-drive accessible powered wheelchair. Whilst working at Southport Spinal Centre, she met an Aspire Independent Living Advisor who recommended that she applied to Aspire Grants for help purchasing a powered wheelchair as Deborah knew the new piece of equipment would be expensive. “The application process was really quite simple and they made it seem very easy. If I had any questions or needed any more information the Grants Officer was really helpful and gave me all the information I needed.” Deborah was successful in her application for an Aspire Grant and was able to buy the X8 All Terrain Powered Wheelchair which she says she uses at least five times a week. “It’s absolutely fantastic”, Deborah says. “I can go out with Dillion, my dog, in the X8 in my VW Transporter and drive to the beach where we have a great time. In fact I can go anywhere I like now in this chair. Holidays in our motor home with the X8 on the carrier at the back mean my husband and I can enjoy more walks and spend some quality time together. “It has completely exceeded my expectations; I can get to places I never thought I would see again. The X8 has given me new independence, freedom and the ability to enjoy the countryside that I love so much.” Click here for more information on Aspire Grants Have you had an Aspire Grant? Share your story with us! Help others like Deborah and fundraise for Aspire.