Michelle Hibberd

Michelle's HELP ME SUPPORT BACKUP! They helped me so much!

Fundraising for Back Up
raised of £2,000 target
by 35 supporters
Back Up

Verified by JustGiving

RCN 1072216
We help people with spinal cord injury to transform their lives


Thanks for taking the time to visit my JustGiving page.

In October 2019 I developed acute direct spinal cord compression due to a tumour at T5 - mid chest -  I underwent 6 hours of emergency surgery.

My neurosurgical team subsequentally moved me to the Regional Spinal Cord Injuries Unit where I underwent intensive physiotherapy & occupational therapy.

 Here I started my journey of learning to live my life in  a way that I had never anticipated - these things always happen to “someone else!” Don’t they? sadly, no.

The Spinal Cord Injuries Unit was full of people just like myself and of all ages - some not too far out of their teens. Tumours, accidents, infections - we all arrived via different paths but none of us expected to be there.

I was in hospital for 8 weeks & whilst the team got me to a place where I was physically able to manage at home, once I was out of the “bubble” of the Unit, I really began to experience what living with a disability after a spinal cord injury was really like. 

I cannot begin to explain how it affects every single aspect of your life. Of course there are the many  physical issues  but  also the devastating effects on your sense of self, psychological and emotional effects, to say nothing of the barriers in everyday life  that I was SO oblivious to when I was living as a fully able bodied person. 

I had previously worked my entire life  - as a nurse and a dive guide - forever on my feet or being active - now here I was, in the grip of the first Covid lockdown, all services  -  sadly  very scant  in my area (think postcode lottery) redirected to Covid.

I had no idea what or who was out there to help me, what support I was entitled to, how to access it and I can honestly say it was the hardest year of my life. 

I was very lucky to have made some amazing friends on the Spinal Injuries Unit and we kept in touch and   and still do  - every day - to  support each other. 

But for all of us, this was all new.

I actually reached out to BackUp in total desperation. I have always been very independent but I was struggling very badly indeed. My GP was unable to provide support  - they were struggling with keeping up with Covid and the hospitals were all concentrating efforts in the fight against the first wave of Covid too.

I called Back Up and felt like somebody had caught me.

I spoke to a lovely calm, kind, experienced team member who just listened to me.

He supported me over a few weeks of what was a proper crisis whilst he arranged for me to have the support of a suitable mentor.

He put me in touch with Kim who was trained by Back Up to provide support for people in situations such as mine. 

She was amazing! She  had been through a similar trauma to me and had the experience and expertise that comes of living with it for a number of years.

Talking with her over our planned  sessions helped me so much I cannot express it.

 As well as having someone to discuss all of the physical, psychological and emotional  difficulties with that really understood, she was able to signpost me to other charities and organisations to make sure I  was getting all the relevant help and support I needed.

She really helped me advocate for myself at a time in my life when I have never felt so powerless and unheard.

I’m so grateful  that she encouraged me to engage in what I have found as an amazing source of strength, creativity  &  support, to say nothing of the love & laughter, that is the spinal cord injury community.

She also encouraged me to look at Back Up’s courses. Back Up run brilliant confidence & skills building courses from wheelchair skills, navigating cities as both a wheelchair or aid using walker (SO much more complicated than you could imagine!) to activity weeks for younger age groups and adults too.

In fact I will be to attending one next month myself!

It’s all about challenging  your perception of what's possible in everyday life through a wide range of life-affirming indoor and outdoor activities.

Whilst I’m really nervous about it I’m so grateful to have the opportunity and I just know that I’m going to have an amazing week and am looking forward to meeting the other participants on the course.

Absolutely none of the support I have received and continue to, would be possible without Back Up. 

In the UK alone, 2,500 people a year suffer a spinal cord injury  and organisations like Back Up provide essential, quality support to those that reach out to them.

I really feel that what they do is not an extra but that they  provide the essential support, information and education  that can make all the difference following what will most likely be the most traumatic life event that the individual in need  has experienced.

I will forever be so grateful for how they have supported me - and continue to -  and I would love it if you  would be able to help in supporting my fundraiser!

 Any amount will be so welcome and a share would be amazing too!

Thank you so much for reading this summary!

Much love and gratitude, Shelly (Michelle Hibberd)

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About the charity

Back Up

Verified by JustGiving

RCN 1072216
Back Up services include mentoring, wheelchair skills training and activity courses as well as support in getting back to work or school after an injury. We provide peer led tailored support to help people adjust to a spinal cord injury and inspire independence and confidence for a positive future.

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