Steve was 23 years old when he experienced the trauma that changed his life, completely and irrevocably. It was 2005 and he was working in Europe as an area manager for a holiday company. He recounts: “I tripped and fell from a first-floor balcony. I was looking up when I landed, so when my body stopped my head went back over my shoulders, like a severe whiplash. It snapped my neck, dislocating the C7 [one of the cervical vertebrae, below the skull] and trapping my spinal cord.”
Steve was taken to the hospital for emergency surgery to stabilise his neck. “The only parts of my body that I could move were my shoulders, my neck and my elbows.” Three weeks later he returned to England in order to begin his rehabilitation at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.
Very soon after arriving at Stoke Mandeville, Steve was taken to watch wheelchair rugby. That moment was one that he would come to think of as transitional. “There were people trying to knock each other out of their wheelchairs, shouting, swearing and arguing. There was a canyon between where I was mentally and physically and where they were. A lot of them had similar injuries to me, some had worse, and I thought: ‘If they can be that confident, why can’t I?’ It was a turning point.”
Steve left the hospital in October 2005. In that same month, he took part in his first wheelchair rugby training session, with London Wheelchair Rugby Club at the Aspire National Training Centre.
Steve’s potential in the sport was quickly noted by the head coach of the Great Britain squad. In 2006 he was awarded a place in that squad and in 2007 he was part of the team that won gold in the IWRF European Championships. Despite such precocious progress, he narrowly missed selection for the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games – but was honoured to lead the Olympic and Paralympic Parade of the Heroes through London on the team’s return.
Omission from the squad for Beijing only maximised Steve’s determination to play at Great Britain’s home Paralympics in 2012. He regained his place and, despite breaking his sternum while playing in Germany in 2010, was awarded the captaincy in 2011. At the London 2012 Paralympics, Steve led his team to a 5th-place finish. He has since commented that “Being captain at your home Games is the biggest thing that you could do. I was incredibly proud.”
Although Steve retired from the international sport after the London 2012 Games, he remains heavily involved as a player and Director of Wheelchair Rugby for Canterbury Hellfire Wheelchair Rugby Club. He is one of the most recognised faces in the sport, having featured in multiple national newspapers and television broadcasts including Channel 4’s Inside Incredible Athletes.
Steve is available for motivational and after dinner speeches. He talks openly about his own journey of injury, recovery, life’s pressures and aiming for excellence. His aim is to challenge and motivate audiences in a positive and inspiring way.
His content is deeply personal, drawing on his life journey from sustaining a spinal injury to being a Paralympic captain to emerging as a national broadcaster.
With his warmth, his humour and his honesty, Steve will captivate your audience immediately and completely. They will leave invigorated by his example.
Previous clients include Zurich, Alliance, Sky, Slater & Gordon, Sky, German Wings, WNS Global Services, PJ Care, NHS, BT, and Specsavers.