This summer marks 30 years since I suffered a spinal cord injury playing rugby for a season in New Zealand. At that time I had just finished a sports degree and was playing rugby for Glasgow and at junior international level.
There was nothing unusual about that day or the match - it was a freak injury that could have happened to anyone but I've lived with the devastating consequences ever since. Whilst it is something which you can get used to to a degree it's not something which you ever get over. Everyday life and things which I used to take for granted suddenly became a daily struggle.
I try not dwell on what's happened and to keep a positive attitude but I'll be forever haunted by the ghost of the person who I could have been. To this day I see my reflection when passing a shop window and can be surprised by the person looking back.
I feel as though I'm a fairly resilient person and I'm not sure where that came from but I've certainly been very lucky to have family and friends around me who have been incredibly supportive. Not everyone however has that, and as well as the devastating physical consequences depression is understandably all too common.
The only reason there are no treatments to limit or reverse the paralysis and other problems associated with spinal injury is lack of funding. Whilst a "cure" is many years away the science that can offer hope of meaningful recovery is there. A number of treatments offer promise to those yet to be injured that a spinal cord injury will not mean a life in a wheelchair.
Research into spinal cord injury receives no government funding and the big pharmaceutical companies are not interested as treatments are unlikely to be drugs. Progress is therefore entirely dependent on the support of people like you.
I hope you feel this is a worthwhile cause and can support me in my challenge by making a donation to Spinal Research.
It would also be fantastic for anyone to join us on the cycle or kayak for a morning, a day or just for lunch!
The Mighty 333 Challenge
300 mile handcycle (Newcastle to Edinburgh to Striling to Glasgow to loch Lomond) Setting off from Newcastle on Saturday 13th July
30 mile kayak on Loch Lomond. Starting Thursday 18th July
3 mile treadmill walk Starting 6th July