World Spinal Cord Injury Day | Mary’s story

Awareness Day

Mary on the Belfast City Skills course

For World Spinal Cord Injury Day this year, we’re proposing a theme of #YesWeCan to mark the achievements of people with a spinal cord injury, big and small. It could be taking that first holiday post injury, going to the shops independently, or a gold medal at Tokyo – whatever the achievement is, they’re all important and we want to celebrate them.

We spoke to Mary, who recently attended our Belfast City Skills course, about her #YesWeCan moment.

How have you been involved with Back Up?

I have been involved with back up since I first had my injury. I do remember doing some wheelchairs skills in hospital, however at that time you are trying to get your head around so many other things it’s quite different to remember everything. The over 50s activity course in the Lake District was the turning point for me and was the real connection that I established with Back Up.

What have you gained from being involved with Back Up?

There’s nothing quite like pushing yourself like you used too. Getting out of your comfort zone and being ok with that because you’re there with like-minded people who have had similar experiences, and they also want to get on and push forward with this new life that we are all now living. There is simply nothing like peer support and sharing experiences and ‘tips’ you have learned to make you feel you are getting there. Back Up have got so much to offer in this area. They are so good at supporting (not smothering) and everything is always such good fun.

What have you achieved since your involvement with Back Up? What’s your#YesWeCan triumph?

I think the biggest thing was travelling solo on the ferry to Belfast and back. That was quite an achievement for me, as I do have anxiety, memory, and orientation issues, so it could have been very tricky. However, I have some fantastic Personal Assistants (PAs) who work with me at home who had all the bases covered and everything went so well. So I’m very proud of that achievement, that’s for sure.

Mary on the Belfast City Skills course with another participant and a volunteer

What is life like now?

I have a busy life. I am a music specialist and teach music to Deaf Children. I’m also a very enthusiastic wheelchair curler and as the season is fast approaching. I’m getting excited to get back on the ice again.

Do you have any goals or things you want to achieve in your future?

My ultimate ambition would be to ski. So that’s on my wish list somewhere out there in the future. I’m also coming to the Back Up Ball and will be dressed up … will I be a hero or a villain ?

I guess you will just have to watch this space!!

See you there.

If you’d like to share your stories, join the conversation on social media. Tweet us @backuptrust or tag our Facebook page using #YesWeCan and #WorldSCIDay and let us know about all your achievements, big and small.