03:47PM, Monday 12 October 2020
An ex-Army medic who was paralysed from the chest down in a motorcycle crash has become Team BRIT’s first female racing driver.
Nerys Pearce, 38, from Ascot joined the Army in 2004 as an advanced trauma medic and was fast-tracked into medical training after excelling in her exams.
In 2008 she was hit by a reversing car while riding her motorbike in Twickenham.
Her left leg was crushed and she suffered damage to her right leg, shoulder and sustained a serious head injury.
Months of treatment and spinal blocks caused a spinal cord injury which left her paralysed from the chest down.
“After the spinal block, I instantly thought ‘my legs don’t hurt’, I was ecstatic and thought the constant pain was finally over. I was thanking the consultant who had to then explain that I couldn’t feel pain because I was paralysed,” said Nerys.
“It took me around six months for me to fully understand and come to terms with the fact that I’d never sit up, walk, or go to the toilet without tubes again. I always had hope that my injuries would be fixed – being an adrenaline junkie I was used to being injured and getting back to it again – this was just incomprehensible.”
Nerys was bed bound for four years where she struggled with bouts of depression but them BLESMA, an armed forces charity which supports limbless veterans in the UK, invited her on a ski trip in Colorado.
“In 2015, a support officer from BLESMA came to my home and said he was going to help me,” Nerys said.
“He asked if I would consider going skiing with BLESMA – something I had always loved, but I could barely even communicate with him, let alone believe that it could happen. BLESMA took me to Colorado and the trip changed my life.
“By the end of the trip I had skied solo on a sit ski down a mountain – days before, I struggled to even be out of bed without passing out.”
Nerys went onto take part in ‘Enduroman’ a 300-mile continuous triathlon from London to Paris, racing as part of a team of adaptive female athletes for Help 4 Heroes and breaking the world record.
In 2016 she competed in the Invictus Games in Orlando winning ten medals in power lifting, rowing, track and field – the most any competitor has ever won in one games – and in 2018 she competed for Team Wales in the Commonwealth Games in Australia.
She also conquered ‘Race Across America’ known as the toughest cycle race in the world, on a hand bike with a team of seven adaptive sportswomen. In September, she will attempt to swim the channel.
Dave Player, the founder of Team BRIT which supports people with disabilities, PTSD and mental health issues through motorsport, approached Nerys earlier this year to join the team.
Coached by Team BRIT professionals, Nerys in planning to become the world’s fastest disabled female driver and took part in her first race in the Trophy Category of the Britcar Championship at Silverstone on Sunday.
“I never dreamed motorsport would be possible for me, but when I went to Team BRIT HQ and tried out the simulator and hand controls, I really believed it could happen,” she said.
“I always over think, and over process, which has been a problem in the past, but for Team BRIT, it showed them how analytical I could be about a racetrack.
“What excites me most about what is ahead, is that we’re doing this on a completely level playing field. No one will know I’m using hand controls, they’ll just see me as competition and that’s incredibly freeing.
“I want to be as fast as I can, and I want to push the boundaries of what people expect from women and from disabled people. I’m not just a disabled woman ‘having a go’, I’m a competitive racer.”
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