A CHESTER wheelchair racer was shortlisted for a top national youth award.

GB wheelchair racer Nathan Maguire made it to the final three young spinal cord injured people to be nominated for the Spinal Injury Association (SIA) Young Person of the Year Award.

The Rebuilding Lives Awards 2019 were attended by HRH The Princess Royal and the event was held at the home of Williams Racing in Oxfordshire on Thursday, July 11, in the build-up to Williams taking part in the Formula One British Grand Prix.

Birchall Blackburn Law, based in Chester Business Park, sponsored the Young Person of the Year Award.

At the age of eight, Nathan went to sleep and overnight his immune system attacked his spinal cord. He woke up the next day paralysed.

He was diagnosed with the rare disease transverse myelitis after a long stay in intensive care.

But he has not let his spinal injury stop him. For seven years he played wheelchair basketball before taking up wheelchair racing at the age of 15.

He is now a member of the GB para-athlete team and has raced in the World Championships, Commonwealth Games, European Championships and Rio Paralympic Games.

His greatest achievements so far are his medal-winning performances at the 2018 European Championships in Berlin, coming away with three bronze medals and a gold medal – the first medals he has won representing his country.

Nathan, 21, said: “It’s a massive privilege to be nominated for a Young Person of the Year award and to have my achievements recognised by the SIA.

"Sport has helped to rebuild my life to a level that I could have never imagined and I hope that through being nominated for this award, I can inspire more people to find their passion and rebuild their own lives with it.

“Sport has given me a new lease of life. It gave me freedom quite quickly after my illness and gave me as normal an upbringing as possible, which many disabled people miss out on. It helped me make friends, understand and manage my disability better and also gave me confidence in the body that once let me down overnight.”

Sophie Davis, communications officer at SIA, said: "All of the shortlisted nominees in this category are inspiring and courageous individuals, who have a bright future ahead of them and it will be a pleasure to watch these young people go on to live independent and fulfilled lives."

Quentin Underhill, partner and head of catastrophic and serious injury at Birchall Blackburn Law, added: “This is the second year we’ve sponsored the SIA’s Young Person of the Year Awards.

"After meeting the courageous and inspiring young nominees last year we didn’t hesitate to sign up again – and this year’s nominees are just as amazing!

“It’s great to see a Chester local on the award shortlist. Nathan’s sporting achievements are breath-taking. There is no doubt he is an inspiration to other young people who will be encouraged to take up a sport no matter what their ability. It is so important when it comes to rehabilitation and throughout life.”

The Young Person of the Year Award was won by Maisie Graham.

The SIA is a national user-led charity for spinal cord injured (SCI) people. Being user led, the charity understands the everyday needs of living with SCI.

To find out more, visit spinal.co.uk or call 0845 678 6633.