Inspirational athlete and disability campaigner to address business leaders at Boat Show Lunch
A disability campaigner and former top equestrian will share her insight on how to stay resilient in the face of challenges when she addresses one of the most prestigious social events on Hampshire’s business calendar, the Hampshire Chambers Boat Show Lunch.
Claire Lomas MBE is the keynote speaker at the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce Southampton International Boat Show lunch in September.
The 43-year-old has spent the past 16 years paralysed from the chest down after an accident competing at the Osberton Horse Trials changed the course of her life in a split second.
A collision with a tree left her with catastrophic injuries including spinal cord damage, fractured neck and ribs, and a punctured lung.
After fighting for her life in intensive care, the previously active sportswoman had to navigate constant daily challenges, overcome her profound sense of loss, and pick up the pieces.
“I had to dig deep to find the strength, determination and courage to rebuild my life,” said Claire. “I’d had a career as a chiropractor and had just reached the highest level in the sport of eventing. Suddenly I had lost two-thirds of my body. There were huge daily obstacles whichever way I turned. The simplest of tasks was now hugely challenging.”
From the pit of despair, Claire slowly found the strength and attitude to move forward and has since achieved amazing feats.
She became the first paralysed person to walk the London marathon in a robotic ‘exoskeleton’ suit, taking 17 days.
With adaptions to a motorbike, she gained a motorcycling race licence and rides on the track as well as taking on charity challenges.
She has also qualified as a pilot, flying an adapted microlight, and completed a 400-mile handcycle around England.
Her many fundraising challenges have raised nearly a million pounds towards spinal injury research and a cure for paralysis.
And she is a mother to daughters Chloe, six, and Maisie, 12.
Looking ahead to presenting at the Boat Show lunch, Claire said: “My experience is all about challenging your limits, seeking out the positive and being as resilient as you can.
“That’s a message I expect business leaders in the audience will be able to relate to as it applies to much of commercial life as well.”
Ross McNally, Hampshire Chamber Chief Executive, said: “Claire has an amazing story to tell about overcoming hurdles as a top sporting competitor, fundraiser and motivator.
“We look forward to hearing her speak at what is the B2B event of the Southampton International Boat Show.
“Our annual lunch brings more than 200 representatives of the business community together to celebrate Southampton’s place at the very heart of the global leisure marine industry.
“The lunch has been a fixture of the show since its inception 50 years ago. This year we will be using it as an opportunity to highlight a refreshed vision for the Chamber and explain more about how our peer network helps members to address challenges and share insights.”
The Hampshire Chamber Boat Show lunch takes place at the Leonardo Royal Grand Harbour Hotel Southampton on the opening day of the Southampton International Boat Show, Friday 15 September.
Tickets include a complimentary pass to enter the show, one of the biggest of its kind in the UK and boasting thousands of boats and craft to view.
The lunch, supported by British Marine and Leonardo Hotels, includes a drinks reception and networking.