Sponsor Paula

Paula Craig MBE will attempt to become the first person with a complete spinal cord injury to swim the 22 miles of the Channel without a wetsuit, taking on the challenge as part of a Relay Channel Swim team to mark the 20th anniversary since she was injured. 

In May 2001 Paula, an elite marathon runner training for the GB national triathlon team and a serving police officer with the Metropolitan Police, was knocked off her bike whilst training.  Following the accident Paula was supported by Aspire and says, “The support and opportunities provided by Aspire in the days and months after my injury were invaluable both in terms of my mental and physical health.”   She subsequently went on to compete in the London Marathon in a wheelchair (making her the only person to have run and pushed the London Marathon), and came second to Tanni Grey-Thompson.  She also competed as a wheelchair triathlete at an international level and continued working as a policewoman, becoming a DI and working in the murder squad, internal affairs and counter terrorism.  In 2005 she was awarded the MBE for her services to policing.

Paula Craig being carried down the beach to the sea

Paula’s enthusiasm and sense of humour knows no bounds.  Not once since she became a wheelchair user has she let it stop her continuing her illustrious career and sporting prowess.  She now spends much of her time inspiring school children and groups with tales of her life experiences and raising awareness of the transformative work of Aspire.

Asked about the impending swim Paula reflects, “20 years ago this year my life changed in an instant when I was hit by a car whilst out cycling, leaving me paralysed from the waist down. As a police officer and marathon runner, I had no idea what the future would hold but, thanks to Aspire and the amazing work they do, I was able to return to both and to live life to the full.

"Each year, I get the opportunity to speak to the Aspire Relay Channel Swimmers and actually think they're slightly mad. Each year I'm asked when I'm going to take part and each year I say, ‘I'm not!'.  However, this year, to mark the anniversary of the accident and celebrate my achievements of the past 20 years, I will be taking on the waves, the cold water and the jellyfish to raise much-needed funds so that Aspire can continue its vital work helping those affected by Spinal Cord Injury."

Paula Craig being carried up the beach after swimming

Teammate Andrea says,

“If I feel nervous my heartrate goes up just thinking about what we will face out there, so imagine how Paula must be feeling!  She is fearless and determined; her work with on murder investigations and in counter terrorism is not for the faint hearted and that steely determination is impressive.  She is brave beyond belief and we all feel privileged and humbled to be part of Paula’s team.”

The team of six, known as the Aspire Mutts in recognition of Archie, Paula’s cockerpoo and constant companion, will be leaving Dover on the neap tide of 16th August.  They train frequently at Heron Lake, Wraysbury, Middlesex as well as at Aspire training weekends in Dover.

Sponsor Paula

Paula swam for rehab following a spinal cord injury

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