Martin Symons

Promoting Challenges for Disabled People

I have a rare condition called Klippel-Feil Syndrome.  It creates a fusion in the cervical spine. Depending on the area of fusion, there can be related congenital conditions.

 In my case, I was born with a cleft palate, hearing loss, underbite, short neck with webbing (trapezius muscles are extended from the mastoid areas to the shoulders), painless restriction of cervical movement, scoliosis, and kyphosis and a rare aplastic anaemia.

Despite my disability, I have been part of a crew bringing the Samuel Whitbread back from Germany via the Netherlands (1989), and have been part  of expeditions to Snowden (1993) and Ben Nevis (1994)

In 1995, the lack of appropriate support for people with my adventurous streak led to setting up High Hopes Adventures, a charity which organised adventure holidays for disabled people. 

Trips have included trekking and rafting in the Himalayas, trekking in the Picos De Europa, various multi activity weeks in Devon and Wales. I have also been canoeing down the Miño River, on the Spanish/Portuguese border in July 1999 and 2000.

Due to complete respiratory failure in 2001, High Hopes was taken over by a friend who runs an adventure holiday company, based in Devon. They are still running 4 – 5 adventure weeks for disabled people.

Now, I am a founding and Committee member of:  “Not About the Bike “  a Norwich based Social Enterprise recycling old bikes, maintenance training and organising inclusive cycling. I am  also a member of  Norwich Access Group and I volunteer at the Norfolk Coalition  of Disabled people

I have a keen interest in promoting sport for disabled people, in particular outdoor pursuits/adventure such as climbing, cycling, canoeing, however ambitious or extreme.


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