When I went to the Palace to collect my OBE for services to dance, the Queen asked, ‘Do you do a lot of this sort of dancing?’ She must have found the idea of a wheelchair user dancing hard to grasp. But then lots of people do.

I had set up CandoCo in 1991, with Adam Benjamin, as an integrated dance company for both disabled and non-disabled artists. It was in the gym at the Aspire National Training Centre that we began to explore how we could dance together with our different physicalities. Far from being limited, we were creative and pushed the boundaries of more formal and conventional dance techniques.

We began to explore how we could dance together

Woman in wheelchair dancing

I’m very proud of what the company has achieved, and continues to achieve, teaching and performing all around the world, including at the closing ceremony for the 2008 Olympics and Paralympics in Beijing. In 2007 I retired as the Artistic Director but, as Founder and Patron, I continue to promote and support them.

Now I’m enjoying spending more time with my family and my husband, Trevor, who I married nine years ago. He had been a boyfriend back in the late 1960s before I had my accident on stage in 1973 while performing with the London Contemporary Dance Company. We’d lost touch but he read an article about CandoCo and tracked me down. I’m also planning to take up some old hobbies again. Life drawing is now my passion and I can devote some time to a class. And we both love living in London and go out a lot, as well as doing a lot of cooking and entertaining together.

We were creative and pushed the boundaries.

Over the years I have met some extraordinary people, through CandoCo and in everyday life. Many of my PAs have become good friends over the years and we still keep in contact. They have made my life easier, and some have been great fun to be with. I feel, with their assistance, that I have managed to continue leading as full and interesting a life as possible.

Like anyone else, I have my disappointments – apart from the obvious one. I would have liked children, but either the timing or relationship wasn’t right. But I am now ‘Granny Celeste’ to Trevor’s granddaughter, Sadie, who is wonderful and a great source of pleasure to us.