CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Somerset Life today CLICK HERE

Paralympic Dream

PUBLISHED: 16:59 11 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:18 20 February 2013

Photo by Mike Alsford

Photo by Mike Alsford

Taunton sportswoman Lucy Shuker is preparing to represent Britain at this summer's Paralympic Games in Beijing. The 28-year-old has been British No.1 women's wheelchair tennis player for the last three years and is currently ranked No.10 in the wo...

Lucy Shuker will be one of eight GB wheelchair tennis players in Beijing and will play in the women's singles and doubles alongside fellow Briton, Jordanne Whiley.

As she relaxes on a summer's evening, following a day of training with her coach, Lucy tells me what playing for her country means to her and how she has managed to overcome the many challenges she has faced since breaking her back in a motorbike accident seven years ago.

"Ever since I had my accident and started playing wheelchair tennis, it has been my dream to qualify and represent my country in the Paralympics. I believe it will be the most amazing experience for both myself and my close family and friends. I hope it will also give me valuable experience in preparation for London 2012."

Lucy divides her time between her home in the Somerset village of Ash Priors and her family home in Fleet, Hampshire, where she grew up, and where she was once a county-standard badminton player.

A keen horse rider and all-round sporty youngster, Lucy did a degree in Science and Management of Exercise and Health before walking straight into a sales job. With her first pay packet she paid for her motorbike licence, but just 12 days after passing her test she crashed while taking a corner on a country road.

"I don't remember anything about the accident," says Lucy, who spent 10 months in Salisbury Spinal Unit. "I said I would walk out of the spinal unit no matter how hard it would be, but I did not realise that was not an option. I cried my heart out the day I first got into my wheelchair."

It was during her stay in Salisbury Spinal Unit that Lucy met Athens Paralympic gold medallist Pete Norfolk, who introduced her to the idea of wheelchair tennis.

Following her first game in Taunton, Lucy joined a wheelchair tennis group in the town and Tone Leisure and Blackbrook Tennis Centre support her with courts and gym access.

She has made rapid progress through the ranks of the sport and over the past 12 months she has beaten a string of top players, despite being one of the most disabled competitors. In 2007 she won the Players' Player of the Year Award from the National Wheelchair Tennis Association.

Her hectic life on the international wheelchair tennis circuit began this year with the Australian Open followed by tournaments in America, Japan and Europe.

When she's not on tour, Lucy trains in Taunton with coach Natalie Ayton four or five times a week, and sees fitness coach James Quirk twice a week. And she has just started working with a psychologist on a new acupuncture treatment called Emotional Freedom Technique, which is aimed at getting people into the right frame of mind for their sport.

"I think because sport has always been a part of my life, I don't see why having a disability should stop me doing it. Sport makes everyone healthier and I always feel good for having done something. But it's important to give your body enough time to recover from it."

In fact, in June, at the 2008 Invacare World Team Cup in Cremona, Italy, Lucy was forced to withdraw from a match through a neck injury. "I'd had a run of tournaments and was shattered and just needed some time off," she explains.

"Ever since I had my accident and started playing wheelchair tennis, it has been my dream to qualify and represent my country in the Paralympics"

Lucy feels passionate that sport should be available for all and joined Bath-based world-record sprinter Ben Rushgrove and fellow wheelchair tennis player Louise Hunt at the launch of Deloitte Parasport.

The nationwide campaign has been spearheaded by iconic Paralympian Dame Tanni-Grey Thompson, with the aim of developing disability sports in the UK, and the trio launched the initiative at Team Bath's sports training village at Bath University.

"Sport in my eyes should be an integral part of all children's lives as they grow up and, in one way or another, followed through into adulthood, too. However, being disabled can create a stereotype that sport is not possible - but this is far from the truth and quite possibly becomes even more important.


The 2008 Paralympics will be held in Beijing from 6-17 September, For more information about the Deloitte Parasport initiative visit

Mike Alsford is happy to carry out portrait shoots for both professional and private clients. For more information visit


More from People

Friday, December 7, 2018

The actor Anthony Head talks to Bernard Bale about his love of animals and wildlife, and the countryside around his Somerset home

Read more
Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Since 1948 a Somerset charity has been striving to improve life for older people, as Kate Barrington explains

Read more
Monday, November 19, 2018

Our columnist reflects on the thousands of visitors who come each to the showground

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The first woman to win a F3 class race at Brands Hatch, Bath-born Jamie Chadwick is on a new racing mission

Read more
Wednesday, October 24, 2018

“Calor’s generosity means that we can give a new lease of life to our village hall.”

Read more
Wednesday, October 24, 2018

“Calor’s generosity means that we can provide the children with a much-needed outdoor space to learn, helping to truly enrich their curriculum.”

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

England football manager Gareth Southgate has made our columnist feel proud of his country

Read more
Monday, October 1, 2018

Musician Stewart Copeland relives his Somerset school memories with Bernard Bale

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Toby Buckland is hosting his second Harvest Festival event at Forde Abbey this month. Catherine Courtenay spoke to two of the gardening stars lined up for the speakers tent

Read more
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Tinnitus sufferers are being invited to use a new online, sound matching tool to help better understand their type of tinnitus and the potential treatments available to them.

Read more
Friday, August 17, 2018

Tony Blackburn is enjoying one of the most enduring careers in music. To think that Somerset played such a part in the amazing story of one of Britain’s top radio DJs

Read more
Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Britain has always been at the mercy of the sea and the Bristol Channel is particularly hazardous with fierce tides, shallow banks and dangerous low tide mudflats, as Andrea Cowan discovers

Read more
Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Vanessa White is totally at home when she strolls through the centre of New York or Paris but the former Saturdays singing star still finds her place of birth quite breathtaking. After all – she was born in Somerset, says Bernard Bale

Read more
Friday, June 15, 2018

We know we love our coast, but what do the celebs make of it? We find out...

Read more
A+ South & South West

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

subscription ad

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search