Rebuilding Lives Awards 2018: We speak to nominee, Callan Rawnsley

It was the start of the 2016 Summer Holidays when Callan’s life changed.

At 16 years old, a talented footballer, snowboarder and keen skateboarder, Callan suffered a C5 injury after falling from a rope swing and breaking his neck. Through intense rehab, courageous work with the SCI community and an unwavering spirit, Callan has achieved amazing things in the face of extreme adversity, and the list of his achievements just keeps on growing.

Next on that list? Well, Callan is one of the nominees to win the Young Person of the Year Award at this year’s Spinal Injuries Association’s  ‘Rebuilding Lives’ Awards. As a sponsor of the award, we speak to him on his sporting passions, his Team GB ambitions and the courageous words he gives to others that are struggling with a spinal cord injury.Callan Rawnsley - Spinal Injuries Association Rebuilding Lives Awards


Hi Callan! Tell us, what work do you do with Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) and how has that work helped you with your own injury?

I speak to newly injured young patients, offering them support and telling them about my own experiences. I have introduced some to rugby and keep in touch with them via social media. I found this daunting to start off with as I am quite a quiet person. However, it has brought me out of my shell and helps me also.


You’re really into wheelchair rugby, have you always been into sports?

Yes, I used to play football for a local team and I enjoyed skateboarding, trampolining and snowboarding. I currently play wheelchair rugby and have had some sit ski lessons.  


What is it about wheelchair rugby that you love?

It’s fun to play, there’s a good team spirit and it’s helped with my rehabilitation and mobility, strength and endurance. It’s also a chance to meet other people with similar injuries which has increased my confidence.


We’ve heard one of your ambitions is to play for Team GB! Amazing. Do you have any other ambitions in your sights right now?

Yes! Another ambition is to learn to drive and get an adapted car to increase my independence.


What are your proudest moments and achievements?

I am a low point player in wheelchair rugby so scoring twice at the recent GBWR Nationals in Kent was great. Also going to college in November 2016, and I’m about to complete a 2-year Level 3 diploma in sports and coaching (despite people telling me to defer a year).


Who or what inspires you?

Seeing what people can achieve with disabilities pushes me to want to do more with my life.


How important is SIA’s work to you?

Andy, the SIA representative at Sheffield, helped guide me when I was in and since being out of hospital, explaining what help they can provide and services for the future.

Getting involved with SIA has helped me with my confidence and I pass this on to the people I speak with.


How does it feel to be nominated for a Young Persons Award at SIA’s Rebuilding Lives Awards?

I feel really good about the nomination. It was a great surprise to know that I had been put forward and I can’t wait to come to the awards in June.


What advice would you give to someone newly-diagnosed with a spinal cord injury?

I would tell them to keep fighting and believing in themselves. They can achieve what they want, they might just need to take a slightly different route than they’re used to, to get there.  


What does the future hold for you, Callan?

I am staying on at college to do a university degree in sports and exercise science. I have signed up to Zebedee model agency so will see what opportunities arise. I will be pushing myself at wheelchair rugby and hopefully progressing as far as I possibly can in the sport.


Thank you for taking the time to speak to us Callan, good luck!



SIA Rebuilding Lives AwardsSIA’s Rebuilding Lives Awards took place on Wednesday 6 June 2018 at the Williams Conference Centre. This year, Birchall Blackburn Law sponsored the Young Person of the Year Award, which will be presented to a young spinal cord injured person under the age of 25, who has provided an outstanding level of contribution to the SCI community, and their SCI peers.

For free and confidential legal advice on spinal injuries after an accident, don’t hesitate to get in contact with us on 0800 614 722 or take a look here.