SportsAble Member as Voice of National Campaign

SportsAble member Ben Harris took on the role of spokesperson recently when he was asked by national charity Diabetes UK to join them as the voice of their foot care campaign.

Complications from an unchecked foot ulcer in 2012 lead to a lower leg amputation for the 42-year-old Type 2 diabetic from Slough, Berkshire, something which came as a shock out of the blue.

He lost his job, had to stop playing the sport that he loves – rugby – and quickly had to adapt to life in a wheelchair.

Not knowing who else to turn to, Ben’s  wife, Debbie, found out about SportsAble and encouraged him to join.

“It’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” says Ben who, in just under three years he has become part of the Wheelchair Basketball team and the charity’s Community Fundraising Manager.

Ben’s story, of finding sport to boost recovery from amputation, touched the team at Diabetes UK and he became a lead feature in the summer issue of their informative magazine Balance.

His full page article and easy going nature and willingness to talk to anyone meant that people in diabetic clinics began to recognise Ben , making him the natural choice for the voice of a Diabetes UK’s campaign.

Although he is just weeks away from having a similar operation to his other leg, the proud father of one said he wanted others to learn from his experiences and take better care of their feet.

“There needs to be more information for young people with diabetes about the risks of diabetes complications. I was never told about the importance of foot care or the very real possibility of amputations. Now five years on I’ve been able to turn my life around with the support my loving wife, who cared for me during my rehabilitation, and young son and the charity SportsAble. I’ve now been told that my left leg will have to be amputated, which is obviously hugely disappointing, but I’m in a much stronger place to deal with it this time round.”

Being involved in the Diabetes UK foot care campaign lead to an appearance on the Sarah Walker Show on BBC Radio Berkshire where Ben talked about how sport helped him to deal with his illness and subsequent disability:

“In my former life I was an active, able bodied rugby player. After my amputation I sat in my wheelchair doing nothing.

“Then I joined SportsAble and it changed my life completely. I have made some great friends. As long as I’ve got SportsAble and my mates behind me I’ll be ok.”