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Para-athlete tells business audience of her inspirational journey to become a sporting champion

Para-athlete tells business audience of her inspirational journey to become a sporting champion

Picture caption: Guest speaker Liz McTernan pictured with Pro6 group members (from the left) Anne Tate from the Hull & Humber Chamber, Sarah Bainbridge from AP Robinson & Co, Michelle Lalor of Southbank PR, Teresa Thomas of Wilkin Chapman, Julie Smith of Handelsbanken and Mel Sharpe of Oakridge Hotels.

PARA Nordic skiing is the latest sport to be mastered by Ironman champion Liz McTernan, who told an audience of Northern Lincolnshire businesswomen about her latest ‘challenge in life’.

Attending as guest speaker at the annual Pro6 and Women@1 lunch, Liz told of her inspiring fight back to mental and physical health after a freak diving accident left her permanently paralysed from the waist down. 

Pro6 and Women@1 meet in North East Lincolnshire and North Lincolnshire on a regular basis as small networking groups. In addition, they unite to organise an annual lunch, with Wilkin Chapman solicitors taking a lead in the arrangements. This year it was again held at North Killingholme’s Ashbourne Hotel and attended by more than 50 people.

Liz from Grimoldby, near Louth, told guests how her new life ‘began at 40’ - her age in 2005 when, while scuba diving in Cornwall, an equipment fault sent her 66 metres back to the top of the surface within a minute. Missing out on an hour of compression time, the resultant pressure left her with a permanent spinal cord injury – she would never walk again.

With incredible honesty, she spoke of her major depression, after leaving hospital following a four-month stay and at a point suicide seemed to be the only way out – she was a single mum with two young children at the time.

“No-one expects this sort of thing to happen to them in life and in the three years that followed my depression became very bad,” she recalled.

However, life changed when she made a visit to the swimming pool in Louth, and a lifeguard suggested she train for a paratriathlon – combining swimming, cycling and running. Liz used a handcycle for the cycling before switching to a racing wheelchair for the final section.

It changed her life and Ironman challenges followed. She is a world-ranked Para-cyclist, a champion hand cycling triathlete and is well known across the globe for her Paratriathlon success. Now, after an approach from the British Para Nordic skiing team, she has been invited to a training camp in December with her next ambition to look towards the Paralympics in Beijing in 2022, where she would love to compete in the Para biathlon, which also incorporates shooting.

“They have approached me and that clearly means a lot. Again, I will be starting over, but everyone has to be at the beginning of something at some point in their life. Life is about challenges and I always now have a goal in my life to aim for. If you don’t challenge yourself then I don’t think you have really lived your life to the full, and that may be in sport or it may be in business or your career,” Liz told the audience.

The audience also heard details of the charity raffle recipient, which this year was the Lincolnshire Emergency Blood Bikes services. With 99 volunteers, the charity is on call-out to take blood for life-saving treatments at health facilities and hospitals across the region as well as serving the Lincolnshire and Notts Air Ambulance daily. More than £300 was raised.

Wilkin Chapman Partner Teresa Thomas said: “Another great event and what an inspiration Liz is, a truly great story and we thank everyone for coming once again. This region is equipped with people from all walks of life who are of the highest quality in terms of determination, expertise and resilience, and events like this are an opportunity to recognise that.”

Members of Pro6 and Women@1 are Wilkin Chapman Solicitors, AP Robinson & Co, The Ashbourne Hotel, BG Solicitors, CH Jefferson & Co, HSBC UK, Hull & Humber Chamber, LCS Group, Handelsbanken and Southbank PR.

For more on Liz’s story go to www.lizmcternan.com

For more on the Lincolnshire Emergency Blood Bikes go to www.lebbs.org

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Associated British Ports
University of Hull
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Wilkin Chapman LLP