Nicola is swimming because her son was paralysed by a spinal cord injury 9 years ago

I first heard about the Aspire Channel Swim around 7 years ago through social media. I had been following Aspire since my eldest son’s accident in September 2012 and I completed my first Aspire Channel Swim in 2015.

My son Lewis was 21 when he was paralysed by a spinal cord injury. After university Lewis was unsure what path to follow so started working for my husband’s tree felling company. He loved the job and the people he worked with. On the morning of 6th September 2012, Lewis left the house as usual. I still remember him running down the stairs. The next time I saw him was in intensive care wired up to machines and obviously very badly hurt. Later that evening we were told Lewis was paralysed from the chest down after a large tree fell on him damaging his spinal cord. After a month in intensive care and two further weeks at the University of Wales Hospital in Cardiff, an operation to fix the spine, and after many times being told we might lose him, Lewis moved to Rookwood Hospital for 8 months of intensive rehabilitation.


That day changed our family forever. Lewis’s accident really affected our family; it has greatly affected Lewis‘s grandparents, friends and family and had a big impact on his siblings. His younger brother who was just 16 at the time really struggled, and sadly after suffering with anxiety and mental health issues we lost our son Tom in March 2019. Our daughter suffered too and received therapy.

We tirelessly campaign on mental health issues and when I saw the Aspire Channel Swim challenge I knew it would be good not only for me mentally but also to raise awareness of the effects of spinal cord injury.

Now Lewis is 30 and is fiercely independent. He loves driving, is building his own home, loves to watch sports (particularly Cardiff City football club), is the best uncle to my daughter’s two boys and is still as funny, loving and handsome as before his accident and we are immensely proud of how far he’s come.

Lewis was lucky to able to return to the family home after his accident, we just needed to install a stairlift and adapt the upstairs bathroom. However, we are very much aware that not everyone is in this position and we saw many people at Rookwood who couldn’t go home because their houses weren’t suitable and it was so costly to adapt them. We also know Lewis is blessed to be part of a large loving and supportive family, not everyone is in this position.

I decided to take up the challenge again this year for two reasons; to help raise money for a cause close to my heart and to help with my own mental and physical wellbeing by giving me something to aim for and work towards.

My main reason for swimming is my mental health. I enjoy it because it’s ‘me time’, it’s quiet and I get time to think and breathe. My advice to anyone doing the swim is to always do as many lengths as you can each time you get in pool as life gets in the way of even the most planned timetable.

Sponsor Nicola

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