Living My Way Member Pauline English has achieved more than most in her 63 years.
She has won five medals from two Paralympic Games and became the first person with a disability to swim across Sydney Harbour.
To say she isn’t goal orientated is an understatement, but the road to success hasn’t always been easy for Pauline.
“I contracted Transverse Myelitis when I was three years of age. I spent two and a half years in hospital, and the doctors had said to my parents that I wasn’t expected to see my next birthday.”
Left a paraplegic from her autoimmune disease, Pauline has used a wheelchair since her diagnosis.
In 1971, at the age of 15, she took up competitive swimming, and her coach first showed her how independent she could be after teaching her to balance herself and gain power by making her swim against a rubber hose that was tied to both her ankles at the edge of the pool.
Four weeks after her first lesson, Pauline broke two Australian records at the NSW Paraplegic and Quadriplegic Games, and eight weeks after that first lesson, she broke two Australian records at the National Paraplegic and Quadriplegic Games.
It came as no surprise when her achievements gained her selection to the Australian Team heading to the Heidelberg 1972 Paralympic Games as the youngest athlete on the team.
As Pauline’s confidence soared, so did her times and achievements. Four years later, she won gold at the Toronto 1976 Paralympics, in the women’s 25m butterfly.
Nowadays things look a bit different for Pauline. She has retired from competitive swimming and recently retired from 40 years of service at Hurstville Library.
“Up until Coronavirus, I used to like shopping, catching up with friends, going out for lunch or dinner with friends, watching movies, going on holidays and doing my clinical exercise program,” Pauline said.
While Pauline has seen the evolution in the disability landscape over the years, she says being Plan Managed by Living My Way has helped her enormously.
“I was having problems finding a Plan Manager so I contacted my Local Area Coordinator who made some calls for me and got onto Living My Way,” she said.
“Being Plan Managed is the only way to go as far as I’m concerned. It takes the pressure off paying invoices and keeping files of invoices, therefore giving me time to do other things I love to do.
“If there are any problems or anything I’m concerned about, I know I can pick up the phone and talk to someone in the office at Living My Way. They’re all very helpful and have far more knowledge about the NDIS than I do.”
Pauline has been supported by Living My Way for the past three years now and says the organisation is the reason for the life she leads.