A woman who broke her back in a freak fall is helping other wheelchair-users to take part in “adrenaline-rush” sports.
Jane Sowerby, 41, above, was left paralysed from the waist down and unable to see how she would enjoy life again after falling 13ft from the edge of stairs.
Last month she completed her first London Marathon, 13 years to the day since her accident, raising more than £3,000 for Access Adventures, which she founded with two friends.
It has sent more than 50 people on residential camps where they can experience specially-adapted challenges, from water skiing to kayaking and scuba diving, but needs more money to help others. All camps are oversubscribed and there is a demand for more sessions.
Ms Sowerby, from Ampthill, Bedfordshire, said: “If it’s the first thing you have done with other people with disabilities, it’s incredible what a boost to your confidence that can make.
“I went to Stoke Mandeville hospital’s spinal unit. They do offer some sports as part of the rehabilitation and it does give you a taster, but they are not extreme adventure sports. There isn’t that adrenaline rush there, and as soon as you leave it stops.”
The former music programmer at MTV in Camden took up sit-skiing and went on to become a Paralympic skier, competing in the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.
“Adaptive sports are a powerful rehabilitation tool but there’s no real funding. The military do have long-term rehabilitation funding. There get to go water-skiing on a weekly basis and hand-cycling and ski trips.
“If there was a huge pot of cash , it would be great if civilians could get that on the NHS as well. When you leave the rehab unit that is when it get tough. The support ends.
“To find a sport you can throw yourself into, for a lot of people it’s exactly what they need to prevent them spiralling into depression.
If you have been recently paralysed and told you will never walk again, you have such a sense of achievement if you reach the end of the camp and you have been out skiing for the weekend.”