I was 21 when I was injured and totally ignorant about disability. While I was still a patient at my spinal injuries centre, my cousin and his wife, who are great friends, suggested I go and spend a few days with them. Their house is large and my cousin is big and strong so he could carry me upstairs. I went for four days. It was great to be out of hospital, but it made me see how much I had to learn in order to be independent.

I’ve moved six times since my injury. At first I returned to my parents’ house in Sussex, and later moved into a house I shared with my brother. Three years later I moved to London but I had great difficulties finding a suitable place to buy. I ended up renting a flat in a warden controlled housing scheme for a year, but then could not renew the tenancy. I had no choice but to go and live in a bedsit in an old people’s home for over six months; that was dire. Luckily I had a job to go to each day, and I went out as much as possible in the evenings. It was only the knowledge that I would be moving out as soon as the building works were finished on my new flat that kept me sane.

I had to learn to be independent 

Eventually I moved into a lovely ground floor flat and was there until I came to my current house, a converted cow-shed in a small village just outside Oxford. I hope that this will be my last move, as I am very happy here.

Lady sailing

Although a qualified solicitor, I prefer to have more direct contact with clients so I work with other lawyers in my firm and provide additional support to our clients. I help them claim the correct benefits, find suitable housing, choose a wheelchair, locate a driving assessment centre and get cars adapted or buy new ones. I suspect my career has been more varied and possibly more interesting than it would have been had I not been injured. My injury has certainly given me a direction and motivation that I did not have before.

I love cooking and entertaining. I enjoy going to the theatre and occasionally to concerts. I sing in a local choral society, and in the summer I sail a Challenger, a one-man trimaran, competing in local sailing club race nights and at Challenger regattas. In late 2006, I sailed across the Atlantic in a tall ship, which was an amazing experience.