Date: 26 October 2023 

On 19 October a number of the UK’s leading insurance companies came together at the birthplace of the Paralympic Movement to take part in the ‘Stoke Mandeville Experience Day’.

The Stoke Mandeville Experience was created in partnership between WheelPower and experts from Clyde & Co’s spinal injury subject matter group, and was designed to raise awareness of the importance of sport and exercise in the rehabilitation of claimants with life-changing injuries.

The event brought together more than 70 insurance and legal professionals to experience at first-hand the power of sport. During the day they also got to hear from former and current Paralympians about the life changing opportunities that movement, activity and sport can bring to the lives of disabled people. Speakers on the day included WheelPower Chief Executive Martin McElhatton OBE, Paralympian and Chief Executive who talked about competing in wheelchair basketball at the 1984 Paralympic Games and Louise Sugden, Paralympics GB Para-Powerlifter, who won a bronze medal in Tokyo 2020 and following injury now has set her sights on competing in Paris 2024.

During the day the attendees were able to enjoy six different wheelchair sports that included wheelchair basketball, badminton, sitting volleyball, boccia, archery and table tennis. Supported by coaches from the various governing bodies they were able to experience the thrills, excitement and overriding joy that comes from playing sport.

Many of the professionals who were attending the event specialise in handling claims where individuals have experienced severe or life-changing injuries, so for them to feel the power of sport and appreciate the huge physical and psychological benefits that come from being active was hugely significant.

The Stoke Mandeville Experience Day with Clyde & Co raised over £20,000 for WheelPower, and following the success of the first event the firm now plans to repeat the initiative, with work already underway for an event to coincide with the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.

WheelPower Chief Executive, Martin McElhatton said: “We were delighted to deliver the Clyde & Co WheelPower Experience at Stoke Mandeville Stadium recently. It is fantastic to see how positive Clyde & Co and their partners are about supporting people with spinal cord injuries and other life-changing injuries.

“Events like this help to support WheelPower’s work providing sport and physical activity as part of rehabilitation. As someone who has personally benefited from the incredible physical, mental and social benefits through playing sport for over 30 years it is vital that we continue to support people to be active and live a full life after spinal injury.

Stephanie Atkinson, Clyde & Co Partner in Catastrophic Injury and Large Loss said, “We had such a great day with our insurer clients at the Stoke Mandeville Stadium supporting WheelPower and Clyde & Co. It was absolutely brilliant fun, getting to partake in wheelchair basketball, archery, sitting volleyball and wheelchair badminton to name a few, with excellent coaches from WheelPower to guide us. Thank you to everyone that supported the day from WheelPower, everyone that attended, my colleagues for organising and our fab teammates for such a fun day.”

Martin Duncuft, Senior Claims Technician – RSA (Manchester) said: “The sport has been fantastic and it’s been great to see everybody getting stuck in and losing themselves in the moments. Obviously, everyone wants to win but it’s really just about having a great experience and that’s what we have done.”

“I have dealt with injury catastrophic injury claims for the best part of 40 years and today has given me a new found respect for the difficulties that disabled people face every day. I thought I already had a very good understanding because I’m constantly dealing with rehab programs for people but it’s not until you place yourself in their position (albeit for a few hours) that you fully understand. We were able to get out the chairs afterwards, walk away and continue with our normal lives, but the people who come to centres likes this don’t have that luxury so it does give you even more respect for the challenges they face on a daily basis.”

Mike Dobson, Clyde & Co Partner added: “We were delighted that so many insurers and legal professionals were able to join us for what was an educational and energetic event. It was great to see so many attendees unleash their competitive sides, while simultaneously raising vital funds for WheelPower to continue to empower disabled people to enjoy an active lifestyle through accessible sports.”

Clyde & Co Press Release – ‘Insurers champion transformative power of sport in aiding rehabilitation’ 

Thank you to the sponsors Bush & Co, Tessa Gough Associates, 12 King’s Bench Walk, 39 Essex Chambers, Farrar’s Building, Deans’ Court, Cobden House and Crown Office Chambers.