I was an apprentice electrician when I had my accident diving into a pool in Brazil. Afterwards, I thought I would do something different, as I had the time to study. My PA suggested I get myself to college and do accountancy. I wasn’t even very good at maths but I gave it a shot. That was three years ago and now I’m an Associated Account Technician and also studying to become a chartered accountant.

It was my family who helped me after my accident and stopped me getting depressed or unhappy. My brother’s a DJ so I sometimes go clubbing, and I like socialising and having a good time with friends. Some of them have places of their own now so I go round to visit them or they come to me. I’m quite energetic and enjoy going to the gym, but if it’s raining I don’t usually go out. Wheelchairs and rain don’t mix, and I don’t drive – yet. But I will pass my driving test; boys need their wheels!

Boys need their wheels

James at the Gym

When I was away skiing a few years ago I broke my leg in a collision with a tree. It took a really long while to heal, almost a year and it’s not easy to get about with a great metal frame sticking straight out in front of you. I had to fight to keep the leg, but after lots of physio and finally corrective surgery, it’s still there and I can now move it about more easily. Not sure I’ll be going skiing again though, but if I do I’ll be looking out for those trees.

My latest road trip was to the Czech Republic to visit some friends, and then on to Poland. We did all the touristy stuff, including going down a salt mine in Wielczcha. It meant dropping 100 metres underground by lift and then taking a further 500 steps (I bounced down in my chair) to the very bottom where there was a huge church carved out of the rock - quite amazing. I came back up in the lift from what felt like the centre of the earth.

Does volunteering count as a hobby? Because that’s what I do up at Aspire, helping patients learn to use the computers in the IT suite and on the ward. I really enjoy helping them with their problems and coming up with ways to get them using the computers again, particularly when they’ve initially thought it’s beyond their capabilities. I suppose when they meet me and see that I have a high level spinal injury they are reassured, because quite honestly it’s true: if I can do it, so can they.