“I am so much more than my physical limitations.”
We shouldn’t be surprised that Louise, who is a multidisciplinary adaptive athlete, has ridden for Ireland in Paralympic dressage, studied for a Masters in Strength and Conditioning, and has been awarded Britan’s strongest disabled woman is now attempting to conquer Snowdon.
Louise’s next incredible personal challenge will see her scale the 4.9 mile Llanberis Path to the summit of Snowdon on October 9, 2023, without the use of prosthetics, in an effort to raise funds for Meningitis Now, a cause which ‘is truly important to me.’
Louise contracted MenB when she was two years old and needed amputations on both legs at the knee, as well as to part of her left arm and parts of her fingers on her right hand. Because of how her prosthetic legs function, scaling Snowdon with them on is not an option.
Though she confesses to feeling far more at home in the gym than on long walks, Louise is up for the challenge. She will take on Snowdon alongside a team of other determined walkers including her friend Sadie Dix, Mike Bishop, three times World’s Strongest Disabled Man, and Dr Jack Cleeve who proudly sponsors Louise in her Strong Woman endeavours.
Jack will offer practical and medical support on the climb. He says: “I feel privileged to take on this challenge alongside Louise. Her straight-up refusal to be defined by her physical circumstances is aspirational and something that I have not come across often, despite years of working with numerous strength athletes.
“I am not embarrassed to say that I have been moved to tears whilst watching her compete on the Strong Woman circuit because of the way she approaches the task in front of her. I am in awe of her attitude.”
We asked what inspires Louise, who was the youngest person in Northern Ireland to be awarded a British Empire Medal for her ambassadorial services to spreading awareness of meningitis, she says: “I refuse to let my circumstances define me. I am determined to show the world that I am so much more than my physical limitations.
“I decided to become a Peer Mentor for Meningitis Now because, when I was younger, I knew the struggles of living with the after-effects of meningitis and I wanted to help someone else get through them.
“In doing things like the Snowdon challenge, I want to prove that these things can be tried - that even if you have had meningitis, it doesn’t mean that you can’t go and do things in life.
“It's about representing the struggles that families like mine face every single day. It's about pushing through the obstacles and proving that nothing can hold us back. I hope that by raising money for vaccinations, awareness and support, other people won’t go through the trauma that my family and I did.”
Louise has been doing a variety of training in preparation for the gruelling challenge, including her normal strength training and incline treadmill walking. Louise explains how she approaches physical challenges: “In all the disciplines that I have competed in in my life, I am always having to think around the grey areas and find ways of doing the fundamentals and adapt the action. This will be the same. When I am lifting weights, I don’t hear a thing, everything goes silent, I just focus and do what I need to do and it gets done.”
“It is all about adapting and overcoming - each step I take up Snowdon represents my determination and strength to rise above adversity. And I want to share that determination with others, to inspire them to keep going no matter what challenges they face.”
Louise has a message for you: “By donating, you’ll be making a genuine impact by providing support for those affected by meningitis. Whatever the contribution, every bit counts. Together we can conquer meningitis one step at a time. Even if that is up the side of a vertical mountain!”
Kat Hollywell, Fundraising Officer says: “Louise never fails to amaze us with her incredible determination and charity spirit. We are so grateful for her ability to spread awareness of meningitis, and the charity’s work to reach new audiences, and we can’t wait to watch as she takes on her next challenge. We’ll all be cheering her on from Head Office.”