Law Firm Has Provided Funding Boost To Enable Joanna Butterfield MBE To Compete
A Rio 2016 gold medallist has stated her aim for continued success after bringing a silver home from the Para-Athletics European Championships held in Berlin in August.
Joanna Butterfield MBE, 39, won a gold medal at the Rio 2016 Paralympics when she set a new world record in the F51 club throw. This built on her golden success in Doha at the IPC World Championships the year before in the same event. She also won bronze in the discus event in Doha.
Joanna, who lives in Glasgow, said: “It’s been a crazy few years since I got involved with disability sport. I’ve loved every minute of it.
“I’ve been able to travel to some amazing places, meeting amazing people while competing. Fortunately I’ve managed to be successful too!”
In 2011 Joanna underwent an operation to remove a tumour from her spinal cord. The procedure left her paralysed. However when she came out of hospital, Joanna was determined to rebuild her fitness and began training with her friend, and Team GB Wheelchair Rugby player, Michael Kerr.
After travelling to the London 2012 Paralympic Games to watch Michael, Joanna caught the bug and the pipe dream was born to compete in the Paralympics.
Four years later, the pipe dream became a reality and Joanna was on top of the world following her gold medal.
Joanna said: “When I had my tumour removed, it was a difficult time. But I was determined to get active to help my general fitness and with my rehabilitation. That’s when I started playing wheelchair rugby, and it was exhilarating.
“Then going to London to support Michael showed me just how great the impact of disability sport can be. Eerily, I actually had tickets to one of the athletics sessions in 2012, and it was the session with the club throw event in it. I never thought back then I’d win gold medal at the following Paralympic Games.”
Like many para-athletes, Joanna has to fundraise to support her dreams. After learning about the Don’t Quit, Do It campaign ran by national law firm Irwin Mitchell, Joanna applied to the firm’s disability grants programme.
Joanna received a £500 grant from Irwin Mitchell which was used to fund her participation at the IPC Grand Prix meet in London, in June last year. Joanna finished first place in the F51 club throw event, and qualified for the Para-Athletics European Championships in Berlin.
The financial support provided by Irwin Mitchell is part of its ongoing Don’t Quit, Do It initiative, which aims to highlight the benefits of disability sport and provide support to emerging talent in a range of disciplines. The campaign is backed by multiple gold medal-winning Paralympian Hannah Cockroft MBE.
David Bell, a serious injury expert at Irwin Mitchell Scotland’s Glasgow office, said:
Expert Opinion“When we heard from Joanna, and learned more about her amazing achievements, we were left in awe.
“We were delighted to be able to help compete in London. The whole office was so proud when she won silver in Berlin and we look forward to cheering her on as she looks to defend her Paralympic gold medal in Japan in 2020.” David Bell - Senior Associate Solicitor
Joanna, who was awarded her MBE in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to field athletics, currently trains at the Forth Valley Flyers Athletics Club as she works towards qualifying for the Paralympics in Tokyo in 2020.
Joanna added: “I am thankful to Irwin Mitchell for their support and help in getting me to the Europeans in Berlin. I was happy with the silver, but it has made me more determined to get to Tokyo to defend the gold medal I won in Rio.”
The Don’t Quit, Do It grant programme from Irwin Mitchell offers individuals, disability sport charities and groups an opportunity to apply for help with the cost of training, equipment or participation in major events. Since its launch it has provided more than £50,000 to a range of different projects in the UK.
Irwin Mitchell is a proud supporter of disability sport and has partnerships with the England Amputee Football Association, Boccia England and a host of other related organisations. Furthermore, in 2016 the firm was the Official Legal Services Provider of the World Para Athletics Championships in London and it is also an ongoing supporter of the Superhero Series held at Dorney Lake in Windsor.