Style your ability

SMSR Ambassador Heidi Herkes tells us how she came to realise that style really does matter...

Hi, I'm Heidi and I'm a disabled personal stylist.  I also run a string of YouTube videos, where I help inspire and motivate people showcasing how to live fulfilling life with a disability.  

I used to run a hair and makeup company, specialising in weddings in and around the UK, until I fell down some stairs in my home, leaving me instantly paralysed from the chest down.

Life as I once knew it was hanging upside down on a string and it took a while to accept and adjust to my new way of living.  However, I was soon quick to realise that just because I was now destined to be in a wheelchair, I certainly wasn't going to be defined by it.  I wanted people to see the 'real' Heidi, and not just 'Heidi in the wheelchair'.  I decided to train as a personal stylist, incorporating all my knowledge of hair and makeup as a beauty specialist.

I now offer bespoke styling service to women who've suffered through adversity, helping them regain their inner style, self-belief and personality.

Clothes are never just clothes; they are part of our identity and self-expression.  Finding the right styles and colours has such a transformational effect on not only the way you look, but also in the way you feel.  It's a kind of therapy; a journey to understanding and reawakening the real 'YOU'.

I believe that it's so important to keep challenging yourself and to be brave in our choices in order to rebuild your self-worth, especially after any life changing event.  It's all about kickstarting the new YOU.

I spent 7 months in Stoke Mandeville back in 2014, getting to grips with physiotherapy and my wellbeing.  My injury is classed as a C4/C5 incomplete Tetraplegic.  My hands were originally very curled and I found it very difficult to use them.  Thanks to various hand operations that I have received at the National Spinal Injuries Centre - and of course the most talented and charming surgeon ever - Mr Heywood, I am now not only able to open them and use them but aesthetically, they just look so much better!!

Being a wheelchair user, there are so many things to be aware of such as pressure ulcers, pain, urinary tract infections and limited hand function - as if being paralysed isn't enough?!!

All of this needs in-depth research to overcome these 'unseen' medical complications that can really hold people like me back.  I have such admiration for what Stoke Mandeville Spinal Research is relentlessly doing on a daily basis to help combat these things, in the hope of making life better for people with spinal cord injury.