Claire’s life turned upside down on 6th May 2007 when she became paralysed from the chest down in a horse riding accident. Claire fractured her neck, dislocated her back, fractured ribs, punctured a lung and got pneumonia. Luckily the neck fracture didn’t damage the spinal cord but the dislocation to the vertebra T4 left her paralysed from the chest down.
Claire was a Chiropractor and top level event rider when this freak accident left her unable to do the things she loved. Although Claire was determined from the start to make the best out of the situation there were plenty of days Claire struggled to even get the motivation to get out of bed. She discharged herself from hospital after only 8 weeks, did a lot of rehab (and still does) and over time she found strength and courage to rebuild her life by finding new interests and work as well as raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for research.
A year after her accident Claire met and later married Dan, they had a baby girl – Maisie. She found some new sports (skiing, hand-cycling, motorbikes), set up a business and fundraised to help get a cure for paralysis. Claire always says she feels so lucky to have the use of her arms, and seeing so many of the patients in the hospital unable to move at all gave her the drive to fundraise as much as possible.
In 2012 Claire became headline news worldwide. She was the first (and only) paralysed person to walk the London Marathon, she did it in a pioneering robotic suit. It took 17 days and raised £210,000 for Spinal Research. She was then invited to light the Paralympic cauldron in Trafalgar Square.
School For Mothers: Who are the members of your family?
What was life before your accident like and what was most important to you then?
What are your strongest memories from the split second accident that changed your life?
Your boyfriend at the time of your injury (some months later) ended the relationship, how did you reinvent yourself as a dating woman and meet your husband Dan?
What was the turning point when you stopped thinking of everything you could no longer do, and instead to the many things you can still do?
When did you realise you could be happy and paralysed?
What would you say have been the most awkward moments for you since your injury?
Soon after the accident you were told you’d now make new friends and these would be people in wheelchairs, how did you respond to this advice?
What do you do to lift your mood?
How does your self ‘pep talk’ begin?
Just tell my myself to just get in with it and try not to over think!
How much support do you have in your daily life?
I am independent but enjoy the company of family and friends – I do get support but I also give support.
You’ve mastered handcycling, skiing, marathons and now motorcycling, what, if anything, is next for you?
What was it like completing The Great Northern Run at 16 weeks pregnant?
Your fundraising total has shot above the half-a-million milestone and is not set to stop there, tell us more about the Nicholls Spinal Injury charity and how much money is needed?
How would you describe your personality and what’s the enduring theme throughout your life?
If there’s a ‘best medicine in life’ what would you say it is?
And finally, what is the one common denominator between mothers? (beyond children)
Click the links below to connect with Claire on social media: