Claire Lomas MBE

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Inspirational Fundraiser

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Synopsis

Claire’s promising career in eventing was cut short by an accident which left her paralysed from the chest down. Following a gruelling period of mentally and physically coming to terms with her new life, she refused to be defined by what she could no longer do. With the aid of a ReWalk exoskeleton she took on the London Marathon, completing the course in 17 days. It was the first of many charity challenges which have included a 400-mile hand-cycle and gaining her racing motorbike licence. Claire talks about the resilience, passion and mindset that has seen her achieve incredible things, as well as the technology that has helped her along the way.

Biography

Claire Lomas is a campaigner and fundraiser. Despite being paralysed from the chest down, she completed the London Marathon over 17 days using a ReWalk ‘robotic’ assistance system. Alongisde other distance events she’s also undertaken challenges on motorbike, hand-cycle and monoski.

A successful event rider and trainer, Claire was competing in the Osberton Horse Trials when she hit a tree. Her injuries led to pneumonia, multiple neck fractures and paralysis from the chest down. Despite having no sensation in the lower part of her body, Claire’s indomitable spirit came through and she started to campaign and raise funds for spinal injury charities.

Keen to find new ways to raise funds and public awareness, Claire and the charity Spinal Research hit upon the idea of her completing the London Marathon. Given her injuries, the obvious way to do that would be in a wheelchair, but determined to do things differently, she intended to complete the route using the ReWalk exoskeleton suit that enables paraplegic people to stand and walk.

After first raising funds to purchase the suit, Claire started training less than six months before the marathon started. Although official rules say competitors must complete the course in 24 hours, Claire was given special dispensation to walk two miles a day. After 17 days of gruelling walk, and just five years after her life-changing injury, she crossed the finish line accompanied by crowds, family, and the mounted Household Cavalry. Her incredible feat rose £150,000 for charity. She has since gone on to raise more money and take on more challenges, including the Great North Run and a 400 mile hand-cycle from Nottingham to London. Claire also gained her motorcycle racing license and having completed marathons at around half a mile and hour has sped around every British Superbike circuit at over 100mph.

Claire recounts her inspiring story of refusing to be defeated by circumstances and how, with determination and passion, any challenge can be overcome. She also speaks about spinal injury and the incredible technology that has helped her and many others in their rehabilitation. Since her marathon achievement, Claire has lit he Paralympic Cauldron in Trafalgar Square before the 2012 London games, learned to ski, and raised over £500,000 for spinal injury research.

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