I had been a Detective Constable for nine years when I had my accident. I had previously been a radiographer at St Thomas’ Hospital in London but had always wanted to be a policewoman. I wanted to do something different every day.

I am now a Detective Inspector on a Murder Investigation Team having been promoted twice since my accident. My injury rarely gets in the way at work. If I’m visiting somewhere inaccessible, I can always ask someone to lift me up some steps. I am not trained to use a firearm but I am trained to supervise firearms operations, if it is ever required.

My injury rarely gets in the way at work

Sport has always been important to me. I ran the London Marathon for six consecutive years, 1995 to 2000. In 2000, I ran in 2 hours and 57 minutes and then, in 2002, following my accident, I competed in the women’s wheelchair race. In 2004, I came second in 2 hours and 6 minutes.

In 2001, I was out on my bike, training for a triathlon, when I was hit by a car driven by a very old man who just didn’t see me. I still compete in triathlons and training takes up a lot of my free time. I sometimes work long hours and I am also the sports governor at Amwell View School which is a school for children and young people with special needs. There never seem to be enough hours in the day to do all I would like to do.

Police woman in a police car

As an athlete, I draw inspiration from Sir Steve Redgrave. The thought of him getting up so early for all those years to train at that level is amazing, especially with his own health issues. I also draw inspiration from my own family and friends, everyone has their own problems. I read recently that if everyone threw their problems into a pile, we would still choose to take our own back. I think that is so true.

My family is Catholic and we all have this great faith to draw on in times of trouble. The serenity prayer, which includes ‘grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference’ is one I use a lot.

Shortly after my accident, someone said to my brother, “I’m sorry to hear about Paula; her life is over now really, isn’t it?” Thankfully, he said, “You’d better try telling her that!”