Medical marvel stops in Ascot
Published: 28 Aug 2013 12:300 comments
A 'MEDICAL marvel' cycled through Ascot and the Sunnings alongside TV host Jeremy Kyle.
Five years after breaking his back in an avalanche which swept him off a cliff, Paul Stewart has defied doctors by taking on the IronSpine Challenge.
The 200ft fall, while climbing in France, in December 2008, paralysed the 32-year-old from the waist down. But the sports fanatic never gave up and is now able to walk with the aid of two walking sticks and leg braces.
He said of the accident: "I was an athlete; what defined me had been taken away from me. I felt like I wasn't the person I was. But after a lot of tears, I realised nothing was going to get the old me back apart from hard work. I made a conscious decision I wasn't going to be beaten."
Paul began the 11-day IronSpine Challenge at the Stoke Mandeville Stadium, in Aylesbury, on Tuesday, August 6, and reached Ascot on Friday, August 9. The challenge started with a 2.4 mile swim, then a 112-mile hand cycle, 26.2 mile walk and next a climb - taking on a cliff in La Plagne, France, where he was injured.
Paul uses a recumbent bikes. Through the Ascot area, he was joined by TV presenter Jeremy Kyle, who lives in Winkfield, and he called in at the Belvedere Arms in Sunninghill, Sunningdale Lounge and Great Fosters Hotel in Egham.
The cycle part of the challenge finished on Tuesday, August 13, in London and then Paul, who lives in Cheltenham, completed the walk from there to London City Airport on Friday, August 16, where he caught a plane to France.
Jayne Wedge, a specialist in neuro-rehabilitation, described Paul as a medical marvel and said: "By all rights he should not be able to walk at all.
"Through hard work, tenacity and stubbornness he is undertaking a challenge that should be medically impossible."
Aside from this endeavour Paul has learnt to sit-ski and also plays wheelchair tennis for Team GB.
He has many supporters - including TV sports presenter Clare Balding, Formula 1 pundit David Coulthard, former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, Olympic eventer Zara Phillips and Prime Minister David Cameron. Speaking of this support, Paul added: "I've been blown away. Money's coming in from places I never expected, from people who have never met me.
"I think it's because the British public loves a trier, loves someone who's taking on something that should beat them."
The sponsored challenge is raising money for Spinal Research and Wings For Life; charities dedicated to finding a cure for spinal cord injury.
To donate visit www.ironspinechallenge.com