A leading disabled sportswoman paralysed following a cycling accident has been honoured with a special award from a national spinal cord injury charity.
Lizzie Tench, 42, a paratriathlete, from Farndon, was named by Back Up as their Inspirational Person of the Year.
It was in 2012 that Lizzie was involved in a road collision while out cycling with her partner which left her permanently paralysed from the waist down and she had to adjust to life with a spinal cord injury.
Lizzie, who grew up in Uttoxeter, said: “Winning the award was totally unexpected. When I heard my story being read out I experienced a massive flood of emotion and felt totally ecstatic to receive it.’’
At the time Lizzie had the accident she enjoyed a successful job as a children and families social worker and had an active lifestyle – but in that moment everything changed.
It was only when she went on her first residential course with Back Up later the same year that she began to feel like her old self again.
Lizzie, who was treated at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital, Gobowen, added: ‘‘I had lost all my self-confidence, sense of identity and joy, and could only focus on everything I’d lost and what I could no longer do.
“Back Up opened my mind to new possibilities and put me in touch with other people who had gone through everything I was experiencing. They had come out the other side and were doing more than just getting by, they were thriving and achieving things I wouldn’t have thought possible with a spinal cord injury.’’
The course was also the beginning of Lizzie’s reintroduction to sport. She hasn’t looked back since and is now ranked 1st in the world in paratriathlon in the PT1 women’s class and was recently selected as part of the Paralympic Inspiration Programme.
A paratriathlon involves a 750m swim, 20km hand bike section and 5km wheelchair race.
Lizzie remains close to the charity and received her award last month at Back Up’s 30th anniversary ball. As well as residential courses, Back Up offers a range of services for everyone affected by spinal cord injury. These include mentoring, wheelchair skills training and support getting back to work or school after injury. It also the only UK charity with dedicated services for children and young people with spinal cord injury.
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