Mike Ashton from Cambridgeshire takes on the RideLondon-Essex 100 for the Spinal Injuries Association
In the UK, 2,500 people sustain a spinal cord injury each year. In September 2019, following a road traffic accident while cycling in Greece, I became a member of that club. An injury is a life-changing event – for me it means that I am paralysed from just below the shoulders and the rest of my body. This has had a huge impact on both me and my family, friends, and colleagues. However, they have all been amazing in rallying around, which brings me on to the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA).
After my operation and a period in intensive care, I went to the Sheffield spinal injuries unit. As well as being a fantastic medical facility, it was there that I first met the SIA. For me that person (from SIA) has been a role model ever since, somebody to talk to, to bounce ideas off or simply have a grumble to. A good friend. The message was helpfully simple: you can do some things you did before, you might just have to do them differently… And don't give up.
Of course, the SIA do many other things as well to give everyone hope and a fulfilled life after spinal cord injury – education, counselling, peer support, advocacy and campaign for change. They are an extraordinary charity with hugely motivated, kind people – please do check out their website for more information at www.spinal.co.uk.