By David Gold

safe imageDecember 26 - Paralympic skier Talan Skeels-Piggins has been awarded £10,000 ($16,000/€12,000) by the Big Lottery Fund to help change the lives of paralysed motorcyclists.

Skeels-Piggins, a former naval officer, was given the money for his charity, The Bike Experience, one of 58 projects in the South-West to share funding of nearly £475,000 ($745,000/€571,000) from the grants programme.

The 41-year-old won a gold medal at the European Cup last year in the Super-G skiing, and also competed in the Vancouver 2010 Winter Paralympic Games.

He set up The Bike Experience in April to help motorcycle accident victims to get back on their bikes, inspired by his own experience.

Skeels-Piggins was paralysed from the waist down after a motorbike accident in 2003 but got back on a bike again less than five years later with the help of The Bike Experience co-founder Russell O'Neil.

"Learning to ride again changes people's lives," Skeels-Piggins explained.

"It shows them that what they thought was impossible is possible.

"It is the realisation of a dream for them.

"Some people have been paralysed for more than 30 years so it is very emotional for them.

"For others, newly disabled, it changes the way they see the rest of their lives, it alters their mindset.

"When you are paralysed, that wheelchair becomes a prison you cannot escape from.

"But biking gives you total fulfilment and exhilaration.

"It allows people to grow in confidence and improves their strength and balance."

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