With the ClimbScotland Paraclimbing Festival on the horizon, one competitor has driven all the way up from Hampshire to take part.
Laurence Morgan suffered a brain injury at the age of 12 and suffered paralysis from the neck down and faced a long period of rehabilitation and had to learn how to use his body and communicate all over again.
He suffers from spasticity of his left arm which severely limits movement as well as a weakness in his right leg due to reformation of his tibia following surgery.
Despite his, admitted, physical limitations, Laurence decide – egged-on by some friends – a year or so ago, that climbing was the sport for him….
We met up in Princes’ Street Gardens for a wee chat and some photos….
Tell us a bit about Laurence Morgan –
I am a middle child, with two sisters, and I live in a tiny village called Kingsley in Hampshire. It has one pub and a church, so it’s peaceful and a highlight is a pheasant walking through the garden.
I’m an artist, swim teacher and para-climber. I love Star Trek, and only really like foreign films – I can’t speak any foreign languages – and Scandi police dramas.
The brain injury leaves me no memory of my life prior to 12 and I can’t access memories or I encode them wrong. That’s why I explore emotions though my drawing. A natural ‘leftie’, once I’d discovered I could draw quite accurately, I re-learned to use my right – non-dominant – hand.
When I can, I work with the homeless at ‘Crises Open Christmas’ in London, and that’s been for the past fifteen or so years.
I love and feed off learning how to bond or win over and capture the imaginations of the kids I teach.
Where do you fit into the climbing world? –
As a sport paraclimbing is newer and fast expanding. In the last year I’ve been on the podium twice at competitions, finishing in 2nd place.
With each competition there’s excitingly fresh and new awesome climbers, which brings more competition, but its super for the sport and I have ramped up my training to try and hopefully keep up my attainments.
I compete in the RP1 category. There are three groupings with the ‘R’ (reach) and ‘P’ (power) section. The ‘1’ signals that my reach and power is lesser than an RP2 or RP3 climber.
I’m very excited for Sept 8th at EICA and have two other UK Nationals in October and November.
There’s tremendous cognitive resource needed for the tiniest of things which leaves me too fatigued a lot of the time. Which is what drives me – esp. with climbing. Not wanting to succumb, and resigning to limiting factors.
Having met and spent time with Laurence, he comes over as a determined individual with a great sense of humour and one who has not let the accident he suffered at 12 define what he does or who he is. Best of luck to him for Sunday.
The Scottish Paraclimbing Festival is taking place this Sunday 8th Sept. at the EICA at Ratho. The day also sees the finals of the Scottish Lead Climbing Championship and details of both events can be found at http://www.climbscotland.net/