In 1991 I supported a Spinal Cord Injury charity called Back Up
I didn’t raise money, or indeed collected any but I gave my time to an organisation who stretched newly spinally injured men and women to experience sports outside their comfort zones.
That year I was one of the nurse team who helped take paraplegic and quadraplegic patients skiing in Switzerland. Our job was to help the most paralysed patients in activities of daily living and help get them ready for the slopes, which usually meant a hard mornings’ work until 10.30 or so.
The patients were then handed over to the ski instructors with their adapted ski, poles and seats and buggies until teatime when help was needed again to sort out bladders and bowels and to check skin etc before dinner and the usual evening where a great deal of serious drinking apres ski style, was achieved before bed.
Most of our charges were under the age of thirty.
And all had something to prove to themselves after months and months of inpatient care.
The ski resort, as most ski resorts are, was a rather posh place and our hotel was rather plush as I recall with a large open plan bar and restaurant decorated tastefully in 1960s style furniture and one evening after a particularly heavy bout of drinking by our back up team, I was approached by a rather well to do German lady who spoke impeccable English.
She was not happy at all
“ Please,” she asked “ Are You in Charge of zee English men in their wheelchairs? “
I told her I was not, that I was a nurse helper and could I be of any help
“ Zay are singing songs ya?” She complained earnestly “ Which are not in very gud taste”
I apologised thinking the German observers were getting a selection of British Rugby songs forced down their throats and went to investigate.
I found a dozen men and women in their wheelchairs all linking arms together, with a selection of able bodied drunk friends joining in with lusty voices and blurred expressions.
They were singing the football anthem “ You’ll never walk alone” with great emotion but had substituted their own words for the final bravura ending of the song
“ walk on, walk on with hope in your heart but we’ll never nev-er walk again!!!
WE’LL NEV-ER .....WALK AGAIN! “
As I passed the German lady on my return I merely shrugged
“They sing very well ! “ I called out to her with a smile