About us Meet the team Ambassadors Ambassadors Peter Apps Peter was one of the founding members of Stoke Mandeville Spinal Research (SMSR) and recently moved to an Ambassador role. Injured on an assignment in Sri Lanka, Peter became a tetraplegic, bringing new perspective to his life. Peter has many interests and is a widely respected commentator on risk in all its forms, working with Thomson Reuters. In addition to his voluntary work with SMSR, Peter is actively involved in his local community. Ralph Charlwood Following a mountain biking accident in 1997 Ralph, then a young Chartered Surveyor, went on to complete his MBA during which he undertook a secondment to a company that he subsequently joined, and set him on a career change into real estate finance. He later became involved in growing a start-up business which was then sold enabling him to become financially independent. Ralph is involved in various hobbies and is a supporter of SMSR's research into tackling key complications of spinal cord injury that can impact on quality of life. Nikki Emerson In June 2008, Nikki was involved in a car accident whilst driving back from university, crushing her T10 to T12 vertebrae which led to paralysis from below the middle of her back. After a week in intensive care, she was transferred to Stoke Mandeville National Spinal Injuries Centre and after a period of rehabilitation returned to Oxford to finish her degree. After graduating, she went on to represent Great Britain on the track, alongside working in Commercial Negotiations at the London 2012 Olympic Organising Committee. She currently works as Business Development Manager at Premier League. Heidi Herkes We met Heidi when she was rehabilitating at the National Spinal Injuries Centre following an injury sustained by a fall down the stairs in 2014. Heidi is now a passionate advocate of helping people with spinal cord injury to feel good about themselves through understanding style and its impact on wellbeing. She now runs her own bespoke style consultancy and we are delighted she is sharing her insights with our stakeholders to help them regain confidence and self belief following injury. You can find out more about Heidi at http://heidiherkes.com/about-me/ and follow her on Instagram @heidiherkes. Nick Hutton Nick, a Copy Writer at TBWA London, sustained a high level spinal cord injury more than 25 years ago. He was one of the original founding Trustee members and has recently moved from this to the role of Ambassador. He is a strong supporter of the research that SMSR is involved in. Davey Jose In the early 1980s, Davey Jose was run over by a car aged 2.8 years old and sustained a C1/C2 incomplete spinal injury. He feels that the National Spinal Injuries Centre is like a second home. Their staff feel like an extended family who are always there and very supportive, to navigate the complex world of living with a spinal cord injury. He is very glad to be become an Ambassador of SMSR to do his little bit in supporting them. This is so that they can support more individuals and families in the future. Davey graduated from Trinity College, University of Cambridge in Pure & Applied Mathematics and Computer Science. Nowadays, Davey pursues projects at the intersection of and inspired by art/science, which involve visual arts, technology, mathematics and film-making innovation, exploring themes such as disability and others. He does all this whilst working full-time in finance (from M&A, trading to research). In his recent art exhibition series called The Cure, Davey draws upon his own experiences, painting damaged spinal cords and organs with an unapologetic rawness. He playfully contrasts this with reimagined paintings of iconic portraits from art history, as if each had orthotics like neck collars and body braces, which he has had to use. Davey tries to normalise disabilities and ask the audience to reassess how they view these injuries today - "it's OK to be different and we should embrace our differences". Davey's art has been showcased globally from Korea to New York. His art was recently profiled by BBC 2 and exhibited at The British Library as part of their 500th Da Vinci anniversary celebrations. http://www.twitter.com/daveyjose http://www.facebook.com/daveyjoseArt Kat Panagaki I'm Kat and I'm a c5 tetraplegic. My life changed completely when I was involved in a car accident on the 28th March 2014. I took a taxi from the airport in Greece and the taxi driver crashed into a tree. I was in hospital for two years and I've been living in London with a live-in PA and my fiance Chad. Since being part of the disabled community I've seen how people treat you differently. I'm a blogger and photographer. My aim is to make people see that disability doesn't stop you from living a full, adventurous life. It's the ability to conquer the world despite the great difficulties that life has brought to us. The accident has made me into a strong ''independent'' woman. I found the love of my life after the accident and now I'm engaged. Love doesn't look at disabilities. I'm happier than I ever was. Of course every day is a struggle regarding the neuropathic pain. And that's why charities like Stoke Mandeville Spinal Research that are doing research to find a solution to our problem, is so important. The day that we are going to understand what neuropathic pain is will come and our lives will even better. "Love yourself for the person you are! Disability won't stop us." You can find out more about Kat by following her Facebook page: Punkaplegic and Instagram page: @Katherine_miz. Jamie Polk In 2000, Jamie had a diving accident that left him paralysed from the chest down. Following this life changing incident, Jamie decided work needed to be something that he really loved doing, so he left the city and set up his own art dealership - the Animal Art Fair. Jamie is a passionate supporter to SMSR and as well as being a Trustee, he helps raise awareness of the vital work we do through our Ambassador programme. Sophie Shane In July 2017, whilst on holiday in Malta, Sophie suffered a rare spinal cord stroke injuring her spine from C6 to T8. After six months of rehabilitation in a London hospital, Sophie had another set back when her hip dislocated which led to an operation to replace it further, delaying her recovery. This challenge, along with many others, has made her very passionate about raising awareness of spinal cord injuries and disability. Commenting on her role, Sophie said: "The research that Stoke Mandeville Spinal Research is undertaking is vital to improving the quality of life and independence after a life changing injury". By becoming an ambassador to such a great cause, Sophie hopes to help raise our profile and some funds at the same time.