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My biggest risk would be not taking any risk

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

I expect some people may think that because I became paralysed from the chest down following a horse riding accident, I may be adverse to taking risks again, especially when it comes to other sports.

Recently I posted a video on facebook which showed me getting out my wheelchair and in an adapted ultralight (Pea Bee), then taking off with a huge grin. The two videos have had a lot of response, in fact they have had close to a million views, meaning that so many people who I am not connected with have seen them. The majority of comments are encouraging and kind but it is inevitable with this sort of reach that negative ones will appear.

There have been messages like 'what is she trying to do- finish herself off?' and comments like 'the helmet won't protect her when it falls out the sky' or "suppose she is paralysed anyway so it doesn't really matter'. (By the way, I value my life as much now as I did before being paralysed- if not more, as I have two children to bring up) Typically, one of these messages usually pops up on my phone just as I am feeling the nerves and about to go flying!

It is not just the flying, I have had comments when riding the motorbike "didn't she learn anything from her first accident?' and 'how stupid to ride a motorbike when you are paralysed"

I also received comments when I was walking the London Marathon and Great North Run in the robotic suit. When I announced I was pregnant, there were a couple of comments questioning if I was capable of being a mum and it was selfish to have children given I am disabled. Again, mainly I was surrounded by huge support and love but there are always one or two.

One of my greatest concerns following my horse riding accident is that I would not find things that excite me and challenge me in the same way as tackling some of the country's toughest cross country courses. Every time you get on a horse there is an element of risk. It took a while to find anything that came close to that buzz, but then I started to discover things that gave me a similar feeling.

Why take risks?

Taking risks is an essential part of personal and professional growth. They push us out of our comfort zones, forcing us to adapt and evolve. They can also bring the possibility of success and invaluable lessons. Calculated risks, grounded in training and sensible decisions, often yield the most significant rewards. They build resilience, and expand horizons. Ultimately, those who embrace risks are more likely to discover new opportunities and achieve their full potential in life.

The alternative is to let my accident define my life, which I know would lead me to poor mental health. I am a much happier person taking on the the sports I choose, my family love to see me enjoying life and it is through these sports that I regained the confidence and self esteem that I lost in the early days after my life changing injury. So am I going to change who I am, what I love doing and settling for a life that doesn't really satisfy me?

Absolutely not.

"Life is inherently risky. There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing." Denis Waitley.

Always your own choice but I choose to continue to push the boundaries in as safe way as possible.

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