Lizzie’s story

Experience how a transformative visit to Calvert Exmoor helped Lizzie gain a new outlook on life. This new way of living led her to achieve some amazing feats...

In March 2012, Lizzie Tench was out cycling with her partner when she was struck by a trailer being towed by a vehicle.

She suffered horrendous multiple injuries including spinal cord damage which left her paralysed from the waist down.

Later that year, when she was still recovering and at her lowest point, Lizzie visited Calvert Trust Exmoor. It was an experience that changed her life once again. Lizzie’s stay altered her outlook on life and started her on a path that would lead to big achievements.

Lizzie went on to become a Paratriathlete. She was the British Paratriathlon champion for 4 consecutive years and the European Champion! She won Silver at the ‘Worlds’ and competed for England at the Commonwealth Games.



Image source:

Lizzie's story…

“Before my accident, I knew how to enjoy life. I travelled, I loved live music and I was into sport – running, swimming and scuba diving mainly.

On 17th March 2012, my partner and I cycled into the village to get breakfast.”

And that’s when the accident occurred that left Lizzie paralysed from the waist down.

“I lost pretty much everything following the accident – my mobility, my home, my job, my identity and my self-confidence.

At first, I would go out and about and I felt like everyone was staring at me for the wrong reasons. I felt awkward about being in a wheelchair and my self-confidence was at its lowest ebb.

I was thinking, What now? I really didn’t know what I was going to do with my life. How can everything have gone so wrong?”

October 2012 – The Turning Point!

“It was a weekend at Calvert Exmoor with the Back Up Trust (a spinal injuries charity). On the first day, we practised wheelchair skills and went kayaking.

I loved it. I was free of my chair and I felt normal again; so liberated!

I managed the transfers in and out of the kayak and felt proud of myself. The weather was perfect; sunny, crisp, and cloudless. I was on a bit of a high. After dinner, I went to the hydro-pool, and then it was wheelchair basketball in the gym before a drink in the bar. I started ramming my chair and speeding around, getting into the spirit of things. I ended the day feeling more confident and a lot happier about myself and my abilities, rather than my disabilities.

My self-esteem had been raised through achieving quite a few small successes. I felt proud of my chair skills and my transfers and I realised I was a lot further on than I had thought.

The following day, we started off with handcycling. The handcycle was quite nippy on the straights. I had to lean into the bends, but I got the hang of it. In the afternoon, we abseiled down the outdoor climbing wall in a wheelchair, which was fun. Then we went into the gym and did the Single Rope Technique. We winched ourselves up to the roof of the gym and back down again. We then swung across the gym and threw a bean bag onto a target, which I won! I had a brilliant laugh with the group. I felt part of it and confident.

Later, we went around the group reading out what we’d written on Friday evening about our goals for the weekend.

I achieved all my goals, so I felt very content. I said that I felt the confidence gained could also be transferred to other areas of my life and how much everyone had inspired me. I really enjoyed hanging out with everyone and I couldn’t believe how well everyone had jelled over the weekend.

The next day, my parents picked me up and they said my face had completely changed. The sadness had gone, and I looked bright and positive.”

Image source: Lizzie Tench Twitter

Since Calvert…

From there, Lizzie went onwards and upwards to become a Great British Triathlete.

In 2014, she made her international debut in Madrid, where she won a silver medal. In 2015, she won British titles in Paratriathlon and Paraduathlon and a bronze medal at World Championships, followed by the European title in 2016 and a silver medal at the 2016 World Championships. She is one of the highest ranked triathletes in the PT1 women class!

Lizzie dreamt of going to the 2016 Paralympics in Rio, but there was a heart-breaking announcement that her triathlon category had not been selected as a part of the games.

If she had gone to the Paralympics, we’re sure Lizzie would have done brilliantly. She should be very proud of herself and it’s an honour to have Lizzie as a Calvert Exmoor ambassador!

Now it's your turn…

Find your experience

Want to read more stories?

Carmela’s story

A unique story from an extraordinary young lady. Read Carmela’s story…

Edward’s story

When Edward visited in 2019, his parents cherished every moment and wrote to us to tell us how significant this break had been for them…

Fearghas’ story

From conquering the abseiling wall to zooming down the zipwire, as Fearghas climbed higher, so did his confidence…

Contact us

Please let us know what's on your mind. Have a question for us? Ask away.