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Frankie Butler - From elite hockey to wheeling along trails.

This past year I have experienced my biggest challenge yet. I am in a wheelchair following a severe career ending injury 18 months ago.


Whilst playing hockey for my university, I suffered a catastrophic ankle injury and had to undergo reconstructive ankle surgery. Post surgery complications lead to the development of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). This is a severely debilitating condition causing me to be in constant pain, meaning I cannot walk.


Prior to this injury I was an elite athlete, playing hockey for England’s Junior squads, Scottish Universities and due to trial for Scotland’s U21s later in the season, when the injury happened. It was devastating to have your sporting career ripped away from you overnight.


I was extremely active in the sporting community in Aberdeen, I competed in athletics events, BUCs indoor championships, and played for three hockey squads in the NE of Scotland.I loved the feeling of euphoria you get when working hard, and all your training comes together, flying round a track or on the pitch. Also, I used to enjoy hiking and running on my weekends off, ‘adventuring’ around Scotland, exploring the coastlines and hills.


My recovery has not been how I anticipated it, it has been an arduous undulating path. Fast forward to today, I am using a wheelchair full time and always for intense exercise outdoors. When I first got into the chair it was a huge shock, and very difficult- wheeling round the block was exhausting! 

After a lot of hard work and training during lockdown, I am now able to wheel nearly 10 miles on road and towpaths and I hope to complete a half marathon before the end of the year. Eventually even a marathon! I am getting similar feelings of achievement when I complete a tricky session, as I did before the injury- this has significantly improved my mental health. 

My big off-road goal is to summit a munro in my chair- hopefully by next easter- to raise money for the CRPS foundation. This will require a lot of training outdoors in and around the Cairngorms, along with blisters, sweat and tears! I hope to progress with my recovery as the months go by and maybe, eventually in a few years time I might be one of the lucky ones to go into remission, allowing me to walk.  However, in the meantime, I want to make the most of my life and get outdoors and enjoy each day in the wheelchair- wherever it may take me.







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