Recognition is down to all those who help me, says inspirational campaigner
NEWLY honoured Member of the British Empire Andrew Walker, says the recognition he has received for his tireless work for the disabled is all down the those who support him.
Andrew, of Milnrow, was 28 when he became paralysed from the neck down after a swimming accident in India.
Andrew, 41, said: “I was what you might say ‘living the dream’.
“I was ambitious, successful and was travelling the world.
“I remember sitting on a rock looking on to the shore of a beach in Goa thinking ‘what could possibly go wrong?’”.
He said he had always been an active, fun loving ‘jack the lad’ character.
Later that day Andrew, who is known widely in Rochdale by his nickname ‘Wack’, was paralysed from the neck down after almost drowning, having hit a rock while diving into a seemingly clear sea.
Despite his horrific physical injuries he has forged a full life in the past 13 years, enjoying sailing, mountain biking, skiing and charity runs, all mobilised from an electric chair which Andrew controls with his chin.
He said: “Following my accident I realised I needed to adapt to a new way of life, accept new challenges and set myself new goals.
“I had absolute conviction and determination to lead as full and rewarding a life as I had prior to that life changing moment.”
Andrew, who prior to his accident worked as a construction engineer and worked on the building of the Trafford Centre, serves as a lead member of the Disability Reference Group for Transport For Greater Manchester.
His business consultancy called Living The Dream, visits schools, colleges and other groups in a bid to aim to inspire people to think about their life choices.
He said: “I hope to encourage them to grasp their opportunities regardless of the obstacles, challenge their perceptions of disability and ultimately open up their minds to what they can achieve in their lives.”
Now his work has been recognised with an MBE but the notification from Buckingham Palace was nearly left unopened.
“When I saw the letter I thought it was a bill and wasn’t going to open it until the New Year,” Andrew said. “One of my carers Ray must have had an idea though because he opened it and read it out while standing to attention.
“I love the saying ‘only teamwork can make your dream work’ and that’s true for me.
“The honour is all for my family, my friends, my 11 godchildren and the medical professionals who have helped me.”
●●Andrew with Prince Philip
●●Inspirational speaker Andrew has a business consultancy which encourages people to grab opportunities whatever their circumstances