Nearly three years ago (March 2013), I suffered a life changing accident and was told I would never walk again.
Mentally and physically this has been a journey, having to cope with many changes to my lifestyle, having to give up work etc.
Before my accident I was fairly active. I have always been a chronic asthmatic which has caused me problems throughout my life, but I was a full-time badminton coach and also delivered disability sport sessions to young people under the age 25 weekly.
I line-danced once or twice a week, played badminton once or twice a week, and outside of coaching, I swam and went to the gym a couple of times a week – as much time and my health allowed.
First and foremost, I had to come to terms physically and emotionally with my life-changing accident, and adapting to life in a wheelchair.
As I got physically stronger I knew that badminton was the one thing that I was going to get back into. Having been a Badminton England disability tutor, I never really expected to be using these skills on myself! I decided to have a 'little hit' at one of the no strings sessions run by Torbay Leisure Centre. At this point I was just using a spare sports chair, which was not built specifically for me, so this was also causing problems. In February 2015 I got my own sports chair and that is really when things started to take off. Learning how to play from a chair, and adapting my game to shots that can be played from a wheelchair, was a big challenge.
However I was back on court, very slowly at first, still learning how a wheelchair works and how to avoid blisters etc. Having been playing for some considerable length of time at the No Strings Sessions, I then approached my club about me playing at our club night. I was welcomed with open arms, so this was my start to getting back to competitive play. Obviously the rules are different for wheelchair badminton to non-disabled badminton, but I play non disabled rules at club.
And then last night, was a night I will never forget. I had a chance to play a Ladies match for my club. The other 3 ladies were more than happy and the week before we had a 'team' practice, and then last night off we went. I had settled in my mind that if I got into double figures I would be very happy, however I came away having won matches and I can’t even begin to explain how it felt. Sue Bovey even commented to me that she wasn’t even aware that I was in a wheelchair when she was playing with me.
I have been overwhelmed by the support everyone has shown be but I’d particularly like to thank Zoe Hills, full time badminton coach and junior county coach and has spent endless hours hitting shuttles to me. My thanks must also go to John Chow who runs the No Strings sessions at Torbay Leisure Centre for suggesting that I went along to the sessions – and for offering so much support.
There are of course many others who have helped, and I wouldn't be where I am today without every single one of them.
Name of club: Circus & Barton Acorn Badminton Club / Club location: Acorn Centre, Torquay
The names in the picture are Zoe Hills, Sue Jarvis, Sue Bovey, Sophie Nash