Claire Lomas will be the guest speaker at the Mercury Business Awards.
An inspirational woman who fought her way back on to her feet after a devastating horse riding accident will be the guest speaker at the Mercury Business Awards 2019.
Claire Lomas, 39, was left partially-paralysed after the accident, which happened when she was competing at Osberton Horse Trials in May 2007.
Claire fractured her neck, dislocated her back, fractured ribs, punctured a lung and got pneumonia. Although the neck fracture did not damage her spinal cord, the dislocation to the vertebra left her paralysed from the chest down.
Claire, from near Melton Mowbray, was a chiropractor and top-level event rider when the freak accident left her unable to do the things she loved.
Determined from the start to make the best of the situation, she discharged herself from hospital after eight weeks, and over time found strength and courage to rebuild her life by finding new interests and work as well as raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for spinal injury research.
A year after her accident Claire met and later married Dan Spincer, and they now have two daughters, Maisie, 8 and Chloe, 2. She took up some new sports, including skiing, hand cycling, and motorcycling, and fundraised to help find a cure for paralysis.
In 2012 Claire became headline news worldwide. She was the first, and only, paralysed person to walk the London Marathon, which she did in a pioneering robotic suit.
It took her 17 days and raised £210,000 for spinal research.
She has since gone on to complete many more challenges, all the time raising money for vital research.
Claire will be talking about her life, both before and after her accident, when she is guest speaker at the Mercury Business Awards, which take place at Greetham Valley on Friday, September 20.
"I will be talking about how the accident changed my life, and some of the dark times and the hard times," she said.
"But I'll also be talking about the good times — how I rebuilt my life and met Dan and had the girls.
"A lot of doors closed to me after my accident, but a lot of others have opened since then."
Claire said it had been hard having to give up riding and the eventing that she loved, but that a huge amount of her fundraising had been done through her connections with the equestrian world.
"I did ride again, but after competing at the level that I had, it just didn't feel right."
Learning new sports, and tackling all sorts of challenges, have helped Claire build a new life for herself. Those new challenges have included public speaking at a whole host of events.
"I had never been a speaker before and it would have scared me, but now I absolutely love it," Claire said.
She said she was looking forward to the Mercury Business Awards, and to telling people her story.
Having achieved fame in her robotic suit, Claire continues to use it for fundraising events, but finds her wheelchair more practical for day-to-day life.
She has always been thankful to still have the use of her arms, and they will be tested to their limits in her next big challenge — to ride a lap of each of the circuits in the Bennetts Superbike Championship.
A prize draw at the Mercury Business Awards will raise money for a cause close to Claire’s heart - the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation.