From injury to the Invictus Games The big turning point during my rehab was meeting a girl who was towards the end of her rehab; she came to see me while I was in bed and I clearly remember just how well she looked—she had make up on, she was wearing nice clothes, her hair was nice, she was in a smart wheelchair. You know, she was just happy. She didn’t look the way I was feeling. That reassured me that life does go on and I knew I could do it, that I would be ok and I would cope too. I got back into sport very quickly; horse riding was a passion and never getting back up on a horse wasn’t an option. I was back on a mechanical horse within eight months post my injury, and a real horse a couple of months after that. I now have an adapted saddle that I have designed and built myself so I can ride horses as comfortably as possible and I have been on at least eight or nine riding holidays abroad in the last seven years. When I am on a horse I feel like I’ve got my legs back, I feel so content and happy with life. It was the best thing for me during my recovery and still is over 10 years on. I also tried water skiing and got my first hand bike within a year post injury. Sport was key for me to come to terms with my injury and enjoy life again. I also started wheelchair racing and applied for the Invictus Games. I represented GB at the Games in Toronto; I won our first gold and it made me realise what I can achieve if I set my mind to it. The games were a really big deal for me; it wasn’t just about the winning or getting support from others with injuries. It was about setting the balance right again, after a few years of being so low this achievement restored my confidence, it got me fitter and made me realise what I am capable of if I put my mind to something. When I didn’t get the benefits I thought I should I didn’t know what to do. Without Aspire, I think I’d have just got into even more of a pickle and ended up leaving it. Aspire carried me through the whole process, sorting out the appeal, making me feel reassured and confident. I liked how informal our chats were; I felt a real connection with the Aspire Benefits Advisor and that brought my guard down. It’s not nice talking about things like getting dressed, putting my bra on, bladder and bowel routines and so on but I know that information is needed and she made it easy to talk about. Aspire got me the correct benefits. And having the extra money improves my quality of life; as much as I would like to, I know that I wouldn't be able to hold down a full time job and manage my condition. The benefits I get help me to pay the costs, and when I’ve been sick and my partner has had to take time off work to help me we’ve been able to make up the shortfall of income with my benefits. It means we can get the balance right.