32nd Inter Spinal Unit Games attracts 136 newly paralysed sports participants from across the country in April 2019

WheelPower, the national charity for wheelchair sport, recently welcomed 136 newly paralysed men and women representing 15 spinal injury units from across the United Kingdom and Ireland to the 32nd Inter Spinal Unit Games at Stoke Mandeville Stadium from 9-11 April 2019.


Some had never played sports before, and each person had a different story to share as to how they became paralysed, yet all were willing to give the 26 different sports and physical activity sessions a try, before entering competition sports between the Spinal Unit teams. The flagship event finally culminated in a gala dinner and awards ceremony for all the participants, sports leaders and supporters of the event to celebrate the achievements and effort of all the participants and winners.

The participants received expert coaching and demonstrations from leading wheelchair sports athletes and experienced coaches. ‘Have-a-Go’ sporting activities included: wheelchair basketball, athletics, wheelchair badminton, wheelchair fencing, handigolf, archery, boccia, wheelchair rugby, shooting, cue sports, powerlifting and for the first time adapted and wheelchair yoga.

Chris Keogh, the amateur footballer who became paralysed after dislocating his neck playing the sport he loves, took part in the Games.

“It’s been going very well, it has been great to try out all the different sports, it’s been absolutely fantastic.  Since I had my injury I haven’t really been involved in too much and this has been a great week to try out everything that I didn’t even think was possible to do in a wheelchair, including wheelchair fencing, which I didn’t even know existed 12 months ago!  It’s been absolutely great to be in an environment where people are in a very similar situation to me where they’ve just been under a year injured, it’s been fantastic and I have made lots of new friends, so I’ve really enjoyed it”, comments Chris.

Chris was scheduled to begin a new job at Price Waterhouse Cooper just after his accident.                                                             

‘I got a lot of nice messages from the football community like Jose Mourinho, Eden Hazard, Michael Owen and Javi Hernandez, and now I’m back home living with my fiancé and doing two days a week at work with PWC (Price Waterhouse Cooper).  I had the accident two days before I was due to start my new job and they have been fantastic, they were in contact with me when I was in intensive care and said whatever happens there’s a job waiting for me, when I was ready and they had their own internal doctors give me a look over, they’ve been absolutely fantastic’. Chris continues.

Chris’ message to other people out there with a spinal cord injury is encouraging.

‘Get here, 100 per cent, don’t miss it. It is a great opportunity to get into sports, there are so many sports to try and I’m sure you will love one of them, it might be something unexpected like table tennis, (laughs) I didn’t think I was going to be this good at table tennis but I’ve really enjoyed it (Chris later won a 1st place award for table tennis). I couldn’t recommend the Games highly enough to anyone, I think it’s a fantastic event and I would definitely encourage everyone to come to try it out’.

WheelPower’s Chief Executive, Martin McElhatton is pleased that the charity, through generous support from donors and sponsors, was able to host another successful Inter Spinal Unit Games, where participants like Chris Keogh were able to enjoy the incredible benefits of taking part in wheelchair sport.

“At WheelPower our aim is to transform lives through sport and it is encouraging to see that, once again, all the participants thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to try a wide variety of sports and activities at this year’s Inter Spinal Unit Games,”

“The patients with spinal cord injuries have discovered first-hand what they are able to achieve in terms of sports participation and leading an active life after injury. WheelPower want all of the participants to return home from the Games full of confidence and with the desire to continue playing sport and being active.  WheelPower will continue to support them to find an activity they love in their local area or a pathway into sport.”

Pasan Kularatne, Head of Sport and Physical Activity comments, “Sport has incredible physical and mental benefits to people who have experienced a life changing spinal cord injury. At WheelPower we offer an opportunity through the Inter Spinal Unit Games for participants to find a sport or activity which suits them and can help them see a positive future with sport as part of their new life.  Our ongoing programme to support people with spinal injuries supports them during their rehabilitation and in the future.”


The Overall Winners of ISUG 2019:


Kevin Plowman (Physical Activity Advisor of the Pinderfields Spinal Injury Unit) comments:

'This is such a surprise! We honestly did not expect it! We genuinely thought we'd come 3rd or 4th because Salisbury beat us every year as the defending champions! It’s been twenty years since we’ve won!

I know how hard my team have tried so it really means so much to all of us. Amazing!'



Paraplegic Men Division

1st Slawomir Juranek – Dublin

‘Brilliant! I’m so pleased, I didn’t expect this!’

2nd Richard Millard - Southport

3rd Mark Millar - Belfast


Paraplegic Female Division

1st Ruth Earley – Stanmore

‘I was so stunned to win this award, thank you so much!’

2nd Natalie Kavanagh - Dublin

3rd Rhona Carrigan - Southport


Tetraplegic Men Division

1st Chris Keogh – Stanmore

‘I am absolutely chuffed! I registered last minute so I was lucky to be here, let alone win this award!’

2nd Richard Gill - Middlesbrough

3rd Josh Payne-Gover - Salisbury


Tetraplegic Female Division

1st Rhian Roberts – Rookwood

‘I am absolutely over the moon, just wasn’t expecting it, I am so privileged to have taken part!’.

2nd Mirium Barker - Salisbury

3rd Julie Wardlow - Sheffield


American 9 Ball Pool

Paraplegic Division

1st Gary Edmunds - Pinderfields

‘Thank you so much, it really means a lot to me, I am so stunned!’

2nd Michael Milner - DMRC

3rd Colin Ingleby - Pinderfields


Tetraplegic Division

1st David Moore – Belfast

‘Absolutely amazing, I am shocked but really chuffed at the same time!’

2nd Bill Wilson - Stoke Mandeville

3rd Tim Perry - Salisbury



1st Dan Mosely – Oswestry

‘One word: Exhilarated!’

2nd Ted Reddick - Hobbs

3rd Jane Wadsworth - Middlesbrough



Paraplegic Division

1st Ben Halms – DMRC

‘I never really thought I’d be good at this sport, but it’s been brilliant and the feedback I got from the coaches has been so encouraging, it has made me want to continue and take fencing further!’

2nd Allister MacSorely - Belfast

3rd James Dwyer - Stoke Mandeville


Tetraplegic Division

1st Richard Gill – Middlesbrough

‘I am absolutely shocked but elated at the same time today! I’ve tried a new sport and I am so much better off because of it’.

2nd Mirium Barker - Salisbury

3rd Patrick Greeves - Belfast


Paraplegic Division

1st Emily Overton – Pinderfields

‘I am so shocked, look at my hands, they’re shaking! Oh yes, I’ll definitely take the shooting sport further, I can’t wait!’.

2nd Edward Bridger-Stille - Salisbury

3rd Anthony Softley - Middlesbrough


Tetraplegic Division

1st Hannah Bucys – Southport

‘I feel great! I am completely surprised, I shall have to consider continuing along this pathway if they say I am that good!’

2nd Ramy Harb - Royal Bucks

3rd Mirium Barker - Salisbury



Paraplegic Division

Matt Walker - Stoke Mandeville

‘I feel brilliant, it’s the most positive I’ve felt for a long time, thank you for making this possible!’


Tetraplegic Division

Rhian Roberts - Rookwood

‘I am overwhelmed, I’m so glad that there is so much out there in terms of accessible sports and training.’


Best Female Performance

Melanie Woods - Glasgow

‘I am really pleased, and so happy!’


Table Tennis

Paraplegic Male Division

1st Adrian Hirst – Pinderfields

‘I really enjoyed it, it was one of the single most exciting things I’ve taken part in for a long time.’

2nd Gary Edmunds - Pinderfields

3rd Craig Jesson - Stoke Mandeville


Paraplegic Female Division

1st       Melanie Woods – Glasgow

‘Wonderful, to win twice in a row at two sports is amazing! I am really pleased, and wasn’t expecting this!’

2nd     Tracey Vallance - Oswestry

3rd      Ruth Earley - Stanmore


Male Tetraplegic Division

1st Chris Keogh – Stanmore

‘Really good fun! I am made incredibly happy, I never thought I’d be any good at table tennis - I’ve surprised myself on this one!’

2nd Ted Reddick - Hobbs

3rd Patrick Greeves - Belfast


Female Tetraplegic Division

1st       Rhian Roberts - Rookwood

2nd     Hannah Bucys - Southport

3rd   Sharon Colleran - Dublin



Paraplegic Division - Male

1st Gary Edmunds – Pinderfields

‘Goodness, I’m a little bit overwhelmed. I’ve never played wheelchair tennis before and to win this award for it, well, it’s left me a little bit dumbfounded! I may well continue wheelchair tennis at this rate!’

2nd Rubayet Ahmed- Stanmore

3rd Craig Jesson - Stoke Mandeville


Paraplegic Division - Female


1st Melanie Woods - Glasgow

2nd Tracey Vallance – Oswestry

‘Oh yes, I will definitely continue playing wheelchair tennis, even though I came 2nd, it’s spurred me on to aim for 1st place!’

3rd Fleur O’Reilly - Salisbury


Quad Division

1st Ted Reddick – Hobbs

‘Brilliant! Well, this is my first week in a wheelchair, and I am hoping to come back to help coach others next year’.

2nd David Braham - Rookwood

3rd Patrick Greeves - Belfast


Mark Vestey Trophy for Individual Achievement and Effort

Lee Cargill – Sheffield

‘I am so overwhelmed, I could cry, thank you so much, I will take away really fond memories of this for the rest of my life!’


Jean Stone Trophy

1st Pinderfields 66 points

2nd Salisbury 54 points

3rd Stanmore 50 points


Donate I Fundraise I Take Part

You can be directly part of WheelPower’s drive to transform disabled lives through sport by fundraising for us or donating today, or setting up a regular fundraising function that helps us plan for the future. If you prefer to get involved and take on a challenge, there is lots to choose from, or alternatively you can volunteer for us.

You can even book a WheelPower Speaker for your next event, or book us to visit your school and do a special talk and enjoy one of our infamously interactive ‘Wheelchair Relays’!

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Whichever way you can help us you will be making a huge different to a disabled person’s life and their family.

•             £10 provides training for more wheelchair sports coaches and leaders

•             £24 enables us to give a disabled child aged six their first ever experience of sport – at a WheelPower event where they can try six different activities

•             £49 allows us to buy sports equipment which we use to get recently paralysed people active

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support.


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