I’ve been a trustee of Aspire for just over a year.  Trustees are non-executive roles so they have influence but not executive authority (though they do carry specific legal obligations and duties).  In this role I feel it is possible to guide, analyse and offer objectivity in a way that’s impossible for any organisation to do in an executive capacity.

Trustees are important because most charities are not large enough, or wealthy enough, to have the full range of expertise as part of their staff, so trustees can offer this.  However, being a trustee will only work if the charity is something you care about; as someone who has had a spinal cord injury for 46 years, Aspire ticks that box for me.  I was paralysed by a spinal cord injury in a road traffic accident in 1977 when I was 23.  At the time, I was serving with the RAF who supported me as best they could until I got out of hospital and started a civilian career.

I enjoy being a trustee of Aspire because I’m able to provide a certain viewpoint if needed and can be impartial. My connection is most fundamental as a person who has a spinal cord injury; in 1977 things were very different with much less understanding and tolerance of disability.

It’s important to me to support people with spinal cord injuries because of one word: independence.

Independence is an absolute must for me; at the time I was injured Douglas Bader was my role model.  Any disability impinges on a person’s independence and sense of self-worth, and it takes skill and hard work to minimise these effects. Aspire does much to address some of the core aspects in this area.

The injury is, to a large extent, the simple bit of the journey. The complete life change that is invoked by a spinal injury, be it a minor loss of function through to tetraplegia, is all-encompassing. It is a road travelled by others and marshalling the experience of those people and packaging them into Aspire’s services can help and support people on their journey.

Small charities such as Aspire, have always had to work hard to keep going and in the present - and immediate future - economic climate, I see things becoming more challenging and hope that I can do something to help.

If Aspire had existed back in 1977, the charity would most likely have made a huge difference to my experience, if in no other way than offering kindness, support and guidance at a time of utmost personal crisis.

Living with Spinal Cord Injury


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