In my job I am unbelievably lucky to meet many people who inspire and amaze me. Watching Mark Todd win Badminton or interviewing Tina Fletcher after her double clear in the Hickstead Derby are moments that have left me in awe of what a person can achieve.
None can compare however, to walking alongside Claire Lomas. After a fall at Osberton Horse Trails in 2007, event rider Claire was left paralysed from the chest down. With pure grit and determination, she has fought back and is now walking the entire course of the London marathon in a robotic suit.
I met Claire six days into her walk, and the epic nature of what she was trying to achieve really struck me. Every step is a test that takes unbelievable concentration. One wrong movement and she just comes to a grinding halt. Her husband Dan – whom she met after her accident – is supporting her all the way in case she falls backwards.
Before her accident, Claire had just completed Burghley but she said starting the London Marathon, with all the crowds and support was better than being in that famous arena. When I join her, several miles into her 26.2 mile trek, the crowds are nowhere to be seen, but still Claire plugs on, despite the worst April weather seen for 100 years. The cheers may have lessened but the support is still there as celebrities, including Tim Henman, Claire Balding, Matthew Pinsent and Lucinda Green, give up their time to walk with Claire.
While I was with the team, Francis Whittington was also on hand to lend support. After a crushing fall a Belton a few days earlier, he reflected on how easily it is to be injured in this sport.
The support for Claire has been formidable and as I write this she is nearing the last few miles of her walk and the amount raised for Spinal Research is over £60K. Support the walk by going to www.justgiving.com/Claire-Lomas or text ‘LEGS 60 £(amount)’ to 70070
Keep going Claire