Inspiring and supporting young people seriously injured through sport

CHARLOTTE WILKINSON BURNETT

Charlotte a former U21 hockey international suffered injury when she slipped in the shower, the injury left her paralysed from the waist down. Charlotte has received funding from the Foundation for a lightweight wheelchair and this year took part in the Walk for Matt which raises funds for the Foundation.

Charlotte enjoyed the walk so much that she promises to be back year after year, 'This year was my first experience of the Walk 4 Matt; and for sure, it won't be my last' she said.

So how did she find the walk? 'Due to it being only my first year, and only 10 months post injury, I had decided to take part on the first day only (Saturday 19th). That first day was very tough. The paths were very narrow and tilted and I felt that I nearly tipped into the canal on a number of occasions! Then, just before lunch I got two punctures, fortunately, some lovely men from Leicester Forest Rugby Club helped me to get to a pub so we could fix the wheel'

So was it all walk and no play? Charlotte was extremely impressed with the social element of the walk, 'the first evening was fantastic fun, a barbecue followed by some great music at the Heart of England pub in Weedon. The pub, owned by Marston's was venue for lots of laughs and getting to know people on the walk. I also took up the job of selling the Foundation raffle tickets, £400 raised in a matter of minutes!' Charlotte returned home that night but vowed to go back and on the Tuesday was picked up by the Foundation and taken to watch the cricket match at Tring, another event which is held en route by the Foundation. She was pleased to be back in the thick of it again, 'It was great to be back on the Walk 4 Matt! A great time to catch up with everyone again, including the man himself, Hambo! The cricket provided great entertainment from the likes of Harry Ellis, Paul Nixon, Phil DeFreitas and Charlie Dagnell amongst others. Even though we lost, it was great fun! By the end of the night I decided to return to the walk again on Thursday evening. A huge thank you must be said to all of you who help organise this!'

So how did the rest of the walk go? Charlotte was extremely impressed with the final couple of days, 'it gave me another chance to meet some new faces on the walk who I hadn't previously met on the Saturday. I spent most of the evening with the London Irish boat crew and walkers, and what a fun bunch they are. There was more fun at a court session, overseen by His Honour Roy Jackson and a Walk 4 Matt quiz. The following day at 8:30 I was met, and taken to the walk start point, it was a blisteringly hot day and I set off with the London Irish boat team. I think I managed to get to the 6 mile point but unfortunately suffered another puncture so reluctantly had to pull out. At that point I hitched a lift to Brentford Lock so I could cheer on the walkers as they crossed the finish line. That evening we re-grouped at the Sun Inn in Richmond before the final push onto Twickenham! There we were met by Graham Rowntree and Mike Tindall, a big chance for photo opportunities! This also seemed the perfect time to get a few cold drinks and relax in the sun; but it was soon time to head off to Twickenham. We were greeted at the entrance to the West stand by none other than Matt Hampson. What a great way to officially end the walk!

After photos on the pitch, we headed to the Barmy Arms for lots of banter, laughs and a few drinks to celebrate the end of the week! This continued well into the early morning but I enjoyed every minute'.

The Next day was the Aviva Premiership Final, so did Charlotte enjoy the atmosphere? ' It was a great experience and I was lucky enough to go on the pitch at half time, with Hambo and fellow walkers which was an incredible opportunity in front of a crowd of 82,000 people!'

Charlotte has some special memories of the walk so what did she get out of it? 'Being on the Walk 4 Matt has given me some huge opportunities that I wouldn't have had prior to taking part! I can now positively say that everyone who I met on the Walk 4 Matt will have a special place in my heart as well as being friends for life, thank you to everyone who made this week possible for me. You are all brilliant! I look forward to seeing you during the Walk 4 Matt 2013!'

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