Hear Samuel’s story from his mother Alwena. Samuel suffered a Spinal...
I was 21 when in 2004 I broke my back in a skiing accident on my university ski trip out in Les Deux alps. In a split second by going too fast into a jump and over shooting the landing, my life changed forever. As I landed I sat back and the shock went straight up my spine and shattered my L1 vertebrae. I knew straight away that I had done something bad just not quite sure at the time what it was. I was taken straight to Grenoble hospital where they told me that ‘I would never walk again’ At that point I didn’t know what a disabled life would be like or what the future would hold!
I spent two weeks in France before being flown back to England and taken to Stoke Mandeville. I spent the next four months in Rehab pushing myself as hard as I could to recover what I could. It was a case of being born again learning to sit up, Wheelchair skills to get around, how to go to the toilet again!!
I had always been an active, outdoors, adventurous and sporty person, the thought that I might have lost many of the things that I had taken for granted frightened me, but I knew that I was still the same person and that I wouldn’t let my wheelchair or disability stop me finding a way.
After leaving Stoke Mandeville I went straight back to university to finish my degree. Within a year or my injury I was back on the slopes with the charity Back Up. I wasn’t nervous that I would hurt myself again but more that I wouldn’t enjoy it and that ‘disabled’ skiing wouldn’t be the same! I needn’t have worried as after a day with my head in the snow I was hooked and by the end of the two weeks I was going down blacks on mogal runs (not very well but I was doing them.) While out in Winter Park I met a couple of the then British Disabled Ski Team and that was all it took to seed the idea of competing, skiing and the possibility of a paralympics!
Thanks to the skiing I was living the dream, skiing around the world. After the most amazing experience of competing at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Paralympics I wanted to kick on to Sochi 2014 and push for the podium. But in May 2010 I fractured my hip causing complications. I was still determined to compete and reach my goal so I turned to the Matt Hampson Foundation for support to help get me a custom made seat out in America. The support from the Matt Hampson Foundation enabled me to continue to compete at the highest level. Despite reaching some top 5s at World Cups I wasn’t selected for the games and retired from racing in April 2014. I still sit on the Athletes Commission for Paralympics GB and continue to promote sport and educate young athletes working with the Agitos Foundation the charity arm of the IPC.
The love for the extreme sports and adventures has never left me and as well as the skiing I have taken part in many more sports from Water skiing, Kite surfing, handcycling, downhill biking as well as tennis and wheelchair racing.
Partly spurred on by Matt I have now set up my own charity, Access Adventures, to help spread my love of Adventures with other people with a physical disability running camps taking people waterskiing, skiing, kitesurfing, Kayaking, Blowkarting, scuba and more.
Living with a spinal cord injury can add many unseen costs especially if you want to stay active. The work The Matt Hampson Foundation does is fantastic and makes a real difference for people who have been injured through sport. I hope that having received support myself that I can continue to support Matt and the Foundation with the work they are doing to help people GET BUSY LIVING!