Co-owner of Bristol Inclusive Thrill Seekers
I was born without the lower part of my left arm and from a young age I have always had an interest in extreme sports! Never one to do things normally and always one for challenging my body, I tried all kinds of sports at school but took a particular interest to Parkour.
I practised this all over the world and took part in various online/TV productions until I decided to give indoor climbing ago.
This was something I fit into very naturally and I eventually started to get more involved in the community as a whole. I started working with Access Sport and volunteering at a group that helped those with physical impairments or additional needs take part in various adventure sports. It was around this time that I first started competing in the national Paraclimbing competitions, it was just a bit of fun for me at the time and really cool to see so many different types of people pushing themselves in this way.
Following an accident in 2018, where I was assaulted and left with severe dental damage, I have bounced back to have an unbelievable year!
Along with 2 others, I set up a charity called Bristol Inclusive Thrill Seekers which hosts regular parkour and climbing sessions for those with inclusive needs.
I also received the unexpected news that year that I had been selected for the Great Britain Paraclimbing team! Since then, I have just been training, working and balancing it all up as best I can!
The main challenges I faced as a child were mental ones. I faced up to most of the minor physical challenges that having one arm had but I did struggle with my identity in early secondary school years.
Once I accepted and embraced how I was with pride and confidence everything changed and I got to a place where I was happy to be this way and grateful for the opportunities it gave me and the way I saw life.
My parents have always supported me in finding ways to do everything and now that I am part of a charity and the GB Paraclimbing team, I have all kinds of support from inspirational people.
My childhood aspirations changed a lot. As a young child I wanted to be a footballer but through time I just wanted to see and try everything life has to offer, ticking off all kinds of thrilling activities and sites.
As I got older my goal was to inspire others and give something back.
I have always been into climbing trees and jumping off things and practised Parkour from a young age. I was motivated by challenges and when I came across climbing this seemed like one that was very well suited to me.
There is a large community and competitive structure for climbing, helping you to grow and meet lots of like minded people. Once I found out about the Paraclimbing events, I started taking my training more seriously and in early 2019 I attended the GB selection event.
Balancing training with working full time and running a charity has given me challenges but has also been very rewarding.
That year I have also ran the Bath Half marathon and took part in a charity fundraising cycle to Amsterdam!
At the end of 2018 I was the victim of a crime which was treated as unprovoked assault by the police. It left me with severe dental damage including 5 missing teeth. I really had to bounce back from this mentally, and with the support around me I was able to throw myself into numerous activities that have helped 2019 be the best one yet.
As well as being Co-Founder of the charity I work a day job as a Financial Services Administrator. My day job entails looking after peoples investments and answering queries in relation to them. My role as director of a charity involves coaching sessions and organising volunteers and participants to take part in adventure sports in Bristol. We do lots of networking with local parents, schools and charities to build a bigger picture in the community.
The best bit about my role in the charity is the rewarding feeling of seeing other people reap the benefits of these sports and the connection they can have with our volunteers. Seeing the sport grow also drives us, we want to make these sports as inclusive as we can.
We have recently facilitated climbing sessions for a child who has quad cerebral palsy and very limited mobility. We are now getting lots of people interested in our sessions that use a wheelchair, a breakthrough for us and our inclusivity. Seeing the smile on their faces as they go up the wall then to see the tears as he has to leave, those moments certainly make it all worth it.
I run the charity with 2 others who are both heavily involved in the climbing community and inclusivity. We have a team of volunteers who are also really passionate about the sports and helping others take part. The charity is completely not for profit, and so all the benefits come from making a difference. I was born without the lower part of my left arm, so I feel like we can be really relatable and help people see that anyone can take part in thrill seeking activities with the right know how.
From a personal perspective I have elevated my climbing career – making the GB team and competing in international competitions. I have also ran a half marathon and took part in BBC3’s Amazing Humans series.
We are doing all of this in our own time. At our age and with our level of commitments this isn’t easy but the rewards we get from it really do make it worth it.
I never thought making a Para team would be possible but with how inclusive we are as a country (and world) at the moment there are so many opportunities out there for people with impairments or extra needs to excel. We want to capitalise on this as a charity and make adventure sports inclusive to all.
My ambitions are to make a real difference to the inclusivity of adventure sports. People with disabilities still have the ability to do exciting things and I want to be a part of that. I also want to be part of the GB Paraclimbing team on the day it enters the Paralympics and be part of the development of climbing through this new competitive era.
I want Bristol Inclusive Thrill Seekers to turn into a national success and to impact people positively everywhere! To turn it into my full time job would be a real goal for me too.
My current roles in the GB Paraclimbing team and as the trustee of a charity can help me to network with some of the country’s most inspirational people. I want to not only, improve my own climbing skills and rankings but also, through BITS (Bristol Inclusive Thrill Seekers) help be responsible for the growth of some of our own participants, and maybe even see them compete someday. The charity role along with my position on the team, can help me to inspire more and more people to take part in sports that I am passionate about and to also help develop the Paraclimbing scene as a whole – there is still so much room for further competition Nationally.
My advice to Reach children
See whatever impairment you have as a blessing. It is a chance to see things differently and have a greater appreciation for others. Being different is now, more than ever, a good thing and if you can get to a point where you are proud to be how you are then it will really build your confidence.
Find something you can be passionate about! There are so many opportunities out there at the moment. If you are looking to try something adventurous, I would certainly recommend Parkour or climbing but I guess I’m a bit bias there!