Claire Lomas MBE

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?

Maisie (7)
Chloe (1)

What was life before your accident like and what was most important to you then?

I was a Chiropractor and event rider – very ambitious so reaching the top level in my sport was my dream.

What are your strongest memories from the split second accident that changed your life?

I remember the sinking feeling of what had happened -I knew my life had been turned upside down.

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?

I ended the relationship as it wasn’t the same. A spinal injury has s huge impact on everyone around you . I met Dan on a dating website and although I was nervous about being rejected because of being paralysed and my confidence was low I just thought when has being worried ever stopped me before!

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?

Just gradually by taking opportunities then good days outweighed bad days .. Meeting Dan, part time job and new sports.

When did you realise you could be happy and paralysed?

Again it didn’t suddenly happen. It gradually happens by rebuilding my life.

What would you say have been the most awkward moments for you since your injury?

The early days as I felt embarrassed about being in a wheelchair – I often felt awkward. I don’t now – in fact I am more confident than before my accident.

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?

I wanted to keep the friends I had and have done that – I didn’t need to be surrounded by people with injuries and liked talking about things I would have done regardless of my accident.

What do you do to lift your mood?

I love exercise and make sure I do plenty – also I love getting on the track on my motorbike aim to get my race licence soon.

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?

Getting my race licence – attempting to walk the Great South Run – 10 miles in one attempt so through the night . 24 hours is my target. Most importantly bringing up my two girls as well as I possibly can.

What was it like completing The Great Northern Run at 16 weeks pregnant?

A relief as it was a struggle. I had morning sickness and low blood pressure – it was hilly and tested be to the max. My energy levels were not like they are usually!

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?

They are doing incredible work to cure paralysis . After success with one patient they are treating another two . It isn’t just about walking again but regaining sensation , bowl and bladder etc They need funds to keep up they great research.

How would you describe your personality and what’s the enduring theme throughout your life?

I am fairly positive and like to achieve and be out my comfort zone sometimes. That is why I started as a motivational speaker – I always thought I couldn’t and when asked I like the challenge . I am pleased  I did as that is now my career and I love it. So my theme is to take opportunities and make your own luck.

If there’s a ‘best medicine in life’ what would you say it is?

Laughing. Even in the darkest days – if I found things to laugh at it works better than medicine along with exercise.

And finally, what is the one common denominator between mothers? (beyond children)

The fact you can’t be selfish – they (children) come first . No love like it . Also, we can multitask!!

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