Published on 9 May 2012

Claire Lomas – one remarkable woman

“She’ll do you down the line, Jon”. My editor was talking about the remarkable Claire Lomas who had just crossed the finishing line of the London marathon sixteen days after the rest. ‘Down the line’ means I sit in the studio and she’s piped in on a video link from a truck. You never get to make eye contact or get to feel the atmosphere of meeting someone and talking to them properly.

So I told him I’d get on my bike and get down to the Mall outside Buckingham Palace and speak to her in the spot of her exceptional triumph.

Once in a while you sense the arrival of a truly remarkable human being. That time dawned on the Mall yesterday. For all the tragedy of a horse riding career cut brutally short by a disastrous crash with her horse five years ago, Claire Lomas is a bonny, smiling, optimistic, no nonsense woman.

She was sitting on her stool besieged by well wishers and photographers. On her lap a box full of marathon medals donated by other runners,  peeved that she had not been allowed one herself, for taking too long.

I started with a naïve question – having seen her upright and animated, I asked her how far she could walk normally. “Not at all”, she replied casually – “I can’t walk at all, I cannot even stand up unaided, I’m paralysed from the chest down”.

She was still in her bionic suit and I asked her to walk for me. Suddenly there, discretely, was Dan her husband standing behind her as a kind of eternal safety harness. Hands at the ready should she ever topple. He’d had his hands outstretched, steadying her from behind for the entire 26.2 mile marathon effort.

I risked asking Claire if she thought she could ever walk even better than she does with the bionic suit. “I am sure one day I shall walk again unaided – I don’t know how, but one day!”

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6 reader comments

  1. margaret brandreth-jones says:

    What a delightful interview last night JON . It left me smiling and positive .Claire really is a heroine.The bionic women . I want to know more about it For example does it flex the foot at all and begin to build up muscle lost, and if not , why not?

    One thinks of Christopher Reeves and how he would probably have wanted to be now and not then . Then again I think of my daughter in law riding and my grandaughter who will probably follow suit . It is a scary sport.

    Genetics in spinal injuries are getting there slowly , so the best of luck and good wishes for a remarkable women.

    1. Austin's mum says:

      I know Claire personally, and she is truly remarkable – she has the most amazingly positive outlook on life. If one knew how to instil that attitude upon society…the future of that society would know no bounds…
      Let’s hear it for all those troopers who never quit. XXX

  2. Susie says:

    I understand it doesn’t currently stimulate the muscles but this may be available in a future version. It is early days for this technology.

    Spinal Research are making massive inroads with spinal cord repair, and with Claire’s immense contribution to fund raising, will continue to advance.

  3. Charles Jurcich says:

    A story like Claire Lomas’ is always inspiring, and many epople wonder why all people with physical or mental drawbacks can’t have the same outlook.

    I can only speak for people with mental health problems to some extent, and this reveals at least part of the answer.

    When someone (like me) suffers a life changing mental health problem, i can either react positively to it or negatively. Where someone has suffered due to an accident, they might react quite positively. Fot the hundreds-of-thousands of people who have had break-downs of one sort or another, they may be unable to feel posively about that if, for example, it was somebody else’s fault like a lack of parental love), or if it is an ongoing problem (like bullying).

    1. Margaret brandreth-jones says:

      I have had more than my fair share of bullying throughout my life. I have been top in exams as a kid and swapped around and put to the bottom, have done all the work for many to have it taken from me and accredited to others , have been seriously physically assaulted, have had to listen all my life for others with low IQ.s take the credit for my efforts , have been ridiculed and belittled , have had large amounts of money stolen from me ,with the powers that be refusing to acknowledge me as avictim .. been displaced again and again in my career for others to take the profit etc….all others fault…I also have been lucky enough to have enough mental strength to deal with it and see the bullying, parasites for what they are and still love life..

      The problem as you say ,is those who believe as a victim that it is their fault and mentally implode…. Christian values help in this respect.

  4. Bob says:

    Brilliant story. It’s great to see people with the ability to carry on after such tragedy in their life.

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