Mike Nemesvary: “Happy birthday Back Up!”

Our history

Back Up’s founder, Mike Nemesvary, was a stunt skier who broke his neck whilst training. In 1986, he set up the charity to help other people in his situation to get back to skiing post-injury. 30 years on, our services have expanded and changed to meet the needs of people affected by spinal cord injury. Mike wrote a blog post to celebrate Back Up’s anniversary: 

mike ski

Back Up founded in 1986 by Mike Nemesvary, former British and European Freestyle Champion

It is hard to believe that this year represents Back Up’s 30th anniversary!

It seems like it was only yesterday when my dear friends Barbara Broccoli and Jess Stock gathered by my bedside at the Stanmore Spinal Cord Rehabilitation Centre in North London, as I was nearing the end of 7 months of intense rehabilitation.

Rather than discussing all of the inherent challenges of trying to overcome the effects of breaking my neck at level C 4/5 complete, while facing an unknown future as a quadriplegic, we focused on all of the positive outcomes resulting from my accident and how it could be the platform for helping others with spinal cord injuries.

Without really knowing what we were getting into, the three of us committed to conceptualising an organisation that would improve the quality of life for people with spinal cord injuries, through services and programs that would put us on a level playing field with the rest of society… and Back Up was born!


In the early days our small charity was administrated through the offices of the British Ski Federation, Committee Member’s home offices and then eventually our own independent office. Back in the 80’s, our focus was very much on embracing quality of life through championing many challenging sports, such as snow skiing, water skiing and various outbound adventures, but always remaining visionary and motivated to take on a wide and varied mandate.

Throughout the 90’s and into the Millennium right through to now, the organisation has methodically developed steady stewardship and leadership, expanding into areas such as mentoring, advocacy, education, employment and is a force to be reckoned with throughout the United Kingdom and beyond leaving our mark in many countries from Europe and Scandinavia to New Zealand and the United States.

As is the case with Back Up, what you see on the surface only tells a small part of the 30 year old story. Our longevity would not be possible were not for all of those committed individuals behind the scenes, from our trustees, management and staff to the thousands of volunteers, friends and supporters who continue to see beyond our disabilities and help us to surpass our limitations.

This year, the Back Up team have gone all out in celebrating our 30th anniversary milestone with the goals of reaching a wider group of people affected by spinal cord injury, raising awareness of the issues they face, to celebrate their achievements and bring people together for change. The aim is for everyone affected by spinal cord injury to live the life they want and receive the support they need to fulfill their potential.

While I’m looking forward to attending the Back Up Ball in Birmingham this coming fall, I invite all of our past, present and future supporters to join us in 2016 and make this our finest year ever.

Some 30 years ago, Barbara, Jess and I wanted to “plant the seeds” for a unique organisation that would provide a platform to support people with spinal cord injuries to challenge limitations, pursue their dreams and achieve a quality of life once only reserved for the most able bodied within our society.

I think it’s safe to say those early objectives have been realised and that we’re all excited and inspired to see where the next 30 years will take us. Happy Birthday Back Up!

Join us this anniversary year by taking on a challenge to help people affected by spinal cord injury. Get in touch with fundraising@backuptrust.org.uk or visit our website for more information.