I’m 51 and British, living in France. I am a teacher, I love sport, I have been horse riding since I was two and I have always been a keen swimmer.  I have competed in triathlons and various road and trail runs.

Five years ago I fell from my horse and broke my back. Swimming the Solent is a challenge I have wanted to do for a long time and while spending long lonely hours in a hospital bed unable to move, I decided to make it one of my goals. 

In June 2019 I fell from my horse during a riding lesson and broke my back.  At first I didn’t know it was broken.  My doctor sent me for an x-ray which showed a slipped disc.  I had my first operation in April 2020 (scary times during a pandemic) but it did nothing to help the pain. I was gradually losing the ability to walk (driving was impossible so I couldn’t work) and relying heavily on morphine to be able to just have a little break from the pain. I found a specialist and got sent for an MRI which found that I had three fractured vertebrae.  I was immediately put into a rigid corset for nearly six months, until I finally got my spine fused, parts of my hip bone were used to replace the discs and a metal rod screwed into place. I then had two months of intense rehabilitation and was told I had a 50:50 chance of ever walking again. 

Judi standing in her living room

The rehabilitation was very hard, both physically and mentally, but spending some of this time in the pool was the only time I felt happy. I feel that swimming literally saved me and it was during this time the idea of swimming across the Solent first entered my head.  When my rehabilitation ended, I continued swimming as much as possible to rebuild the muscles in my back. In September 2021, I went back to work and have continued swimming regularly, even taking part in various sea and river swim competitions. 

I managed to walk and live life to the full again, but others don’t, and it really is mentally and physically extremely hard to get up each day if you are in constant pain. I now feel fit enough to complete this challenge and what better way to do it than with a spinal cord injury charity - Aspire is the perfect choice for me.  

I am delighted to have already raised £366 and would like to thank my sponsors: 

  • My local swimming pool Aquabulles in St Fulgent Vendee, France.
  • The high school where I work: Lycee Notre Dame Du Roc in La Roche Sur Yon Vendee, France. 
  • Decathlon

Judi in her swimming costume holding a medal

Sponsor Judi

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