Thursday, 26 April 2012

Claire Lomas - A truly determined woman.

On Monday, after the London Marathon, we had planned to wander around the City being tourists.  The week before, we heard about a rather unusual participant in the marathon and asked the kids if they'd prefer to join her for a while or go sightseeing.  You can probably guess which choice they made as, otherwise, it wouldn't make for much of a blog entry, right?

Claire Lomas was paralysed from the chest down in a very unlucky fall from a horse five years ago.  Now, she is making an attempt to walk the London Marathon course using a robotic walking frame developed in Israel.  She started on Sunday at the same time as the race itself and expects to take two or three weeks to complete the course if she can.  We assumed (correctly) that she'd have plenty of support on the first day so we asked if she'd like us to come along the day after.

We joined her on a cold, wet morning.  You can see from the picture above that walking with the robot legs is far from effortless.  Her family and supporters were all very enthusiastic and made us feel welcome.  Our five-year-old spent the time asking the sort of frank questions that come so easily at that age and stealing jelly babies and other sweets from Claire at every opportunity.

The bulky waterproofs are needed as the ReWalk exoskeleton isn't waterproof.  I spoke to the two tech support guys with her that day and the rig really is quite impressive, especially the claimed eight hour battery life.  Considering how much work the motors do in addition to the computing load, that's very good endurance.  Amazingly, she's managing around two miles per day.

Claire seems to be impossibly determined and in good spirits.  I am sure that only circumstances beyond her control will stop her from completing this very special marathon.  Claire is raising funds for Spinal Research and you can make contributions on her Just Giving page.

I know she'd love to have more people walk part of the course with her so, if you possibly can, do go along.  You can follow Claire's progress on her blog which is being updated by her husband Dan every day.