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Livability supporter fights disability stigma by walking Isle of Wight Challenge

Passionate Livability supporter and nature lover Lizzie Bannister told us about walking the Isle of Wight Challenge to fundraise for Livability and raise awareness around disability stigma.

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Choosing a challenge

Lizzie has mild athetoid cerebral palsy and wanted to help those who are more severely disabled enjoy a better quality of life. She said:

‘I have a friend who lives on the Isle of Wight and I was looking for a walking challenge, especially as I faced discrimination and wasn’t allowed on one before!

‘I have done a degree in conservation so enjoy and understand the importance of nature, outdoors pursuits, British tourism and countryside access.’

Making sure she was prepared for the challenge and raised enough money for Livability, Lizzie worked hard in the run up to the big day.

‘I walked everywhere as often as possible in my rather rural area, I took local long circular walks and rode my pony a lot. I raised money by asking my family and friends to donate and prepared sponsorship forms and posters for my local area.’

On the day

This was the first physical challenge that Lizzie had faced, apart from a 20-mile horse ride she completed to raise money for The Air Ambulance Service.

‘The day I’d been nervous about had come – many people had already donated lots of money and I didn’t want to let them down. So, all prepared with food, drinks, blister pads, plasters, clothing and phone in a rucksack, me and my friend went to the starting point at West Cowes.

‘There was a sense of community and sportsmanship. Then as we climbed away onto roads and tracks through trees and some urban areas and farmlands, we jostled and started to disperse. The mind set was amazing – competitive and determined, but friendly and relaxed. It became a case of overtaking each other, then sometimes making temporary friends as we aimed towards our shared goal.

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‘I was starting to tire by the quarter-way mark, but I kept going’, admitted Lizzie.

‘I kept wanting to give up and call my friend, asking to be rescued. She offered this get-out clause profusely, bless her! But, no, I persevered. It was all for a good cause – for people far more disabled than me who also deserve a good quality of life and the same opportunities as the rest of us. And, of course, lots of people had donated.’

Even though Lizzie could not finish the full 106km challenge, she successfully raised over £530. ‘I appreciated how well I’d done in setting myself up for this brave challenge and raising money for Livability. 61.6 km I had walked in one day!’

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