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Sammi Kinghorn talks loosely

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Sammi Kinghorn talks loosely

Today on Loose Women, new Countryfile presenter and Paralympic athlete Sammi Kinghorn and her father Neill opened up about an accident on their family farm, which left Sammi paralysed from the waist down. 

Speaking to Ruth Langsford, Coleen Nolan, Janet Street-Porter and Linda Robson live in the studio, Sammi explained what happened on that fateful day: “I sort of remember it as though it was yesterday, it’s sort of something that literally seems like yesterday. It was the 2nd December 2010 and we had more snow on the farm than I’d ever seen before. 

“Dad was really struggling, animals were dying, nobody could get out of their homes. Me and my friend had got snowed in so I was thinking, ‘Oh my god this is the best, my exams are cancelled, I was thinking fantastic’.”  

She continued: “And [Dad was] driving a forklift down the road and we were just out helping. I was fourteen years old and thought it would be funny to start walking in front of my dad, putting him off his job. You were beeping your horn and kind of laughing and we were both having a joke and you thought I stepped off to the side but decided to jump on to part of the forklift, something that I’d never been told to do. I’d always been told not to touch it, not to go near it, so I still have no idea why I thought that was a good idea but unfortunately, I did. 

“I remember the pressure on the back of my neck and feeling my back go and thinking, ‘Oh my goodness’.” 

Opening up on the ordeal, Neill explained: “I didn’t know what had happened until well later on that day, at the hospital actually, because she just appeared in front of me, she seemed to find the energy to get off the machine. The first thing I knew, she was lying in a pile of snow in front of me. I thought,’Where did she come from?’ so it was later on that we started to get information back from Samantha, when she was in and out of consciousness, what she’d done and that just… ‘What have I done?’.”  

On being in a wheelchair from the age of fourteen, Sammi said: “To start with, I genuinely thought I was going to be stuck in bed forever because I’d never seen anyone in a wheelchair so I started to plan my life in bed. I thought, I’ll do an online uni course, maybe I’ll invent something to help people that are stuck in… I don’t know what I thought I was going to do but I was very aware this was my consequence for something that I’d done and my dad couldn’t even look at me for days… 

“My mum was just constantly crying when she looked at me so I thought I need to pull up my big girl pants and get on with this. So I was sort of trying to plan my life and then I was given a wheelchair for the first time and I remember thinking, ‘This is so much better than being stuck in bed’ because obviously it’s disabled equipment but it enabled me to get out of bed.”  

The decorated Paralympian also told the Loose Women: “I never wanted to be a sportsperson growing up, I loved animals and wanted to be a Zoologist growing up, but when I went to the Spinal Unit Games, I got to try out every single sport and I couldn’t believe all these sports that could be adapted. I remember them taking me down to try athletics and I remember thinking, ‘I can’t run, I don’t know what you’re expecting me to do?’

“And seeing a girl go round in a racing chair and just being speechless, she was strong and she was powerful and she was overtaking runners and I remember thinking, ‘I’m going to be better than I was before, that’s what I want to do’. And just straight away I was mesmerised.” 

However, Sammi and her dad admitted it took hard work and determination to get to where she is now: “I had to go to my mum and dad and ask for £6000 to buy a racing chair!” 

Neill added: “Yeah, that was an ordeal… Then it was trying to find a coach, because disability sport hadn’t taken off then, and coaches that were equipped to train a disabled athlete was very, very hard. Whereas after London [2012 Paralympic games] things have got better and there’s more coaches are out there willing to train disability athletes.”  

Neill also opened up on his daughter’s achievements since the accident: “It’s amazing what she’s achieved, I still get a lump in my throat just watching any finishing line but when she does it at the World Championships, that’s just pride.”  Sammi is looking forward to the Paris Paralympics this year and revealed that to be selected for Britain, “you’ve got to be top five in the world so it’s very hard to be selected”. 

Sammi also explained how she came to present Countryfile: “I just got a phone call like, ‘Is this something you’d like to do?’ I was just like, ‘Are you joking?’

“I had no experience, I had no idea but honestly I think I could listen to anybody as long as they’re passionate enough and it’s just amazing. It’s something that I was brought up watching with my dad so I find it a bit strange when I’m on it, especially to watch the weather, that was always the big one. It’s amazing and presenting is something that I love doing and would love to do more of.” 

Loose Women airs weekdays from 12:30pm on STV, ITV1, STV Player and ITVX

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