Tim Marshall's Story

Tim Marshall's Story

A sports enthusiast and wheelchair user himself, Tim used his Fellowship to investigate the latest developments in recreational activities available to wheelchair users in the USA.

The Fellowship

Tim started his travels at the American Spinal Cord Injury Association annual conference in Chicago, and went on from there to visit centres in Missouri, Minnesota, Illinois and San Francisco, amongst others. At the Minnesota Outward Bound School he took part in an integrated canoe-camping course, and at Craig Hospital in Denver he witnessed the practical implementation of therapeutic recreational activities such as skiing/sledging for wheelchair users, and hand-cycling. Tim also visited the University of Illinois, which had probably the best-developed campus for wheelchair users anywhere in the USA.

The Results

On the first morning of his Fellowship, Tim met one of the organisers of the wheelchair Boston Marathon. This was a fully integrated part of the running event, with wheelchair sections alongside the runners, and unlike anything in the UK at the time. Inspired, Tim began organising small wheelchair races, largely for children, in a local park, followed by a much larger event for any disabled person round Derwentwater in the Lake District which ran successfully for 4 years. His ultimate goal however was to get a wheelchair section established in the London Marathon, and the subsequent campaign eventually met with success in 1983, despite fierce opposition from the organisers.

This, along with other integration activities - giving talks, writing papers and so on - led some years later to being appointed to the Minister for Sport's enquiry into Disability Sport, and then to an appointment on the Sports Council, where he was to become the longest continuously-serving member. In this position Tim was able to have influence over policies on the integration of disability sports into the structures and practice of the governing bodies of sport. There have been notable successes in athletics and swimming, as well as developments in those sports that Tim saw for the first time on his Fellowship: wheelchair tennis, sledging/skiing, and hand-cycling.

In 1993 Tim was awarded the MBE for Services to Disabled Sport, and he is currently writing a book about the London Marathon campaign.