In 1993, I had a bit of a bump while working for an aid agency in Bosnia.  After spending a happy 21 years in the wine trade, I had decided to do something completely different and went to work in a war, thinking that this would be more peaceful than selling wine to some restaurateurs, retailers and private individuals. I was very fortunate to survive. Sadly the two people with me were killed.

After about three weeks in an overflow intensive care unit in Split, which I’m told resembled a MASH field hospital, I was airlifted back to London in a coma. One of the advantages of a coma is that it is an easy way to give up smoking as all the withdrawal symptoms happen when you don’t know about them. I had tried, unsuccessfully, many ways to give up but this one worked. In total I spent 14 months in hospital.

When you are first aware of what has happened, it is a life-changing experience. To some extent, your previous way of life contributes to how you cope, but I believe luck has something to do with it too. I was fortunate that my brain said, “This is a bit of a bugger but let’s get on with it.” 

You can’t control your circumstances but you can control your response to them.

Unfortunately, I have spent over five years in hospitals in the last 13, in various stints and many operations. But I’ve always escaped to more adventures. The biggest so far has been going ‘Around the World in 80 Ways’ with two blind friends. We achieved 94 different modes of transport in 15 countries over 93 days. I think I may be the only legless paraplegic to have ridden an ostrich, elephant and camel, crashed a balloon and navigated a blind, blonde, Irish girl round a Grand Prix circuit!

Admittedly not as pretty, Miles Hilton Barber, who is also blind but doesn’t really need his white stick so many feet under the sea, came up with the idea that we should illustrate that: "The only limits in your life are those you accept yourself”. I agreed. I should point out that we are qualified open water divers and normally don't use a stick or chair underwater but a picture of that wouldn't prove a point. You see what we wanted to demonstrate was that if you want to do something enough…. you can.