Claire Danson on being paralysed, avoiding bitterness and finding purpose

February 12, 2021. Series 3. Episode 20

This week’s guest is the remarkable former GB triathlete, Claire Danson. Claire’s life was torn apart on August 28th 2019 when she collided with a tractor whilst out training on her bike. Her injuries included the fracture of every bone in her neck, every one of her ribs, both wrists and shoulders and a puncture to both lungs. Tragically she also completely severed her spinal cord, leaving her paralysed from the chest down.  Claire, who underwent multiple surgeries, which she was warned she might not survive, was forced to adapt her life drastically – in her words to “learn everything again.”  With almost unbelievable willpower and strength of character, Claire immediately focused on becoming a para-athlete. This is a story of a life transformed but also of the most astonishing positivity, optimism and resilience. It is an episode packed with the lessons of perspective and a testimony to the power of an individual’s spirit.

Claire’s Crisis Cures:

1. Doing something you love.  For me that’s sport.  But whether it’s reading books, listening to music – whatever makes you smile will definitely carry you through the darker times.

2. Remembering it’s a moment in time.  It’s valid and it’s awful but it can and will get better – so don’t give up.  Because 99 times out of 100, if you don’t give up – you’ll get there in the end.

3. Talking to someone.  If you’re in a crisis – talk.  It just makes such a difference.   With so many things, people will be able to relate and it makes you feel less alone.  And that, will see you through.


Wings For Life:

Show Notes:

Claire’s ability to find perspective in what was an unimaginable, life changing accident was truly humbling. Perhaps it’s the elite athlete’s attitude which allows her to focus on the goals she has set herself, goals which she uses as a coping strategy to push herself towards and beyond what she calls, ‘learning her new life.’  From the start of our conversation, Claire showed acute ability to get to the bigger picture and achieve clarity – crucial in any crisis.  She immediately focused on what she could do – and not what she couldn’t.   This drove her decision to reject any feelings of bitterness. That she uses the words ‘luck’ and ‘lucky’ so frequently is a demonstration of her indefatigable resilience and determination to stay away from corrosive negativity. Claire knows the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people – her friends and family have all played crucial crisis roles during the days of drama and probably more importantly since normal life has resumed.   A truly remarkable and inspiring woman.

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