I lost use of my legs but found love: How Paralympic snowboarder's world was turned around by physio following horrific race accident
Anna Turney was one of the UK's brightest snowboarding hopes when a misjudged jump left her dreams in tatters.
But the accident which left the then 26-year-old paralysed – and facing life in a wheelchair – also led her to the man of her dreams.
Turney was competing in Japan when she shattered her spine during a fall. She spent the next five weeks recovering in a hospital in Yagamata before being allowed back to the UK, convinced she was returning to a bleak future without any hope of living a 'normal life'.
'He's an amazing person': Paralympic sportswoman, Anna Turney, with her husband, Peter Walford, who she met soon after the snowboarding accident which left her paralysed
But it was at this lowest point that Anna discovered happiness – thanks to meeting and falling for physiotherapist Peter Walford, while on a rehabilitation course in the Lake District.
Peter was leading the course while doing voluntary work for the charity, Back Up Trust, which aims to transform the lives of people with spinal chord injuries.
Not only did he help to strengthen Anna’s body, he also won her heart and encouraged her not to give up on her sporting dreams.
'Because Peter is a physiotherapist he obviously understood what I was going through physically,' said Birmingham charity worker Anna, who is now 32.
'But it wasn’t just that, it didn’t take me long to discover he was an amazing person.'
She said Peter, aged 30 and from Alcester, Warwickshire, kept his feelings under wraps until the week-long course was over. But it didn’t take long for the pair to fall for each other. They tied the knot last September.
'It was the most perfect day,' says Anna. 'I feel so lucky.'.
Happy family: Anna met and fell for physiotherapist Peter while on a rehabilitation course in the Lake District
Anna, from Warwick, was attempting to
become a member of Great Britain’s snowboarding team when the accident
took place five years ago
She added: 'Back then I felt like my world had ended and I had lost the ability to do so much. I couldn’t even sit up.
'Then to find myself in the Lakes, which was beautiful, and meeting Pete, was like a dream come true.'
Anna spent three months in a special spinal unit, learning how to do simple tasks she once took for granted.
Despite being told she would be unable to take part in competitive sports again, Anna is now set to represent the country as a mono-skier in the 2014 Paralympics in Russia.
And she has also competed and won medals in a host of top sporting events, including the 2010 Paralympics in Vancouver and the Europa Cup in Austria last winter.
Back on the slopes: Anna, pictured, is now set to represent the country as a mono-skier in the 2014 Paralympics in Russia
The sportswoman also plays basketball for the Warwickshire Bears team and trains with Great Britain’s Paralympian team.
Anna splits her time between training and being a youth worker for Olympic medallist Dame Kelly Holmes’ charity the Legacy Trust, as well as doing motivational talks at schools and events around the country.
She recently became a patron for Birmingham charity Advocacy Matters, and is currently contacting companies and organisations to raise her 20,000 annual sports training costs.
'The funding is a constant stress,' she says.
'I’m relying on credit cards and Peter paying most of the bills and I’ve had to forsake some races because I can’t afford to go and compete.
'But I’m so happy, even though I was told by medics not to do anything deemed to be dangerous. I was determined to get on with my life.
'Sport has always been such a huge part of my life and I think it gave me the motivation I needed to cope with my injury.
'I now have some minor movements in my legs. I’m pretty sure if it had not been for my family and Peter egging me on, I would not have achieved what I have done.'