Catriona Williams

BLAKE Leader 2010

Founder and Trustee, The CatWalk Spinal Cord Injury Trust.

Catriona Williams is the founder and a trustee of The CatWalk Spinal Cord Injury Trust, pushing the boundaries of research to enable spinal cord injury (SCI) sufferers to walk again. Catriona has driven and shaped what started as a single fundraising initiative into a respected and thriving charitable Trust.

A passionate equestrian, Catriona burst onto the show jumping and eventing scene in the early 90s and realised her dream of representing New Zealand both in showjumping and eventing. Her equestrian career ended in 2002, when she had an accident which left her a C 6-7 tetrapelgic, but Catriona’s gritty determination as a rider is now channelled into CatWalk, where she continues to achieve extraordinary things.

The Trust has flourished under her leadership and, since its inception in 2005, has raised over $5million dollars to help expedite the discovery of a cure for SCI.

Catriona is a regular speaker around New Zealand, inspiring countless people by her example of courage and determination in the face of adversity. With one New Zealander suffering a debilitating spinal cord injury every five days, Catriona dedicates a great deal of her time talking to those who are embarking on a new life confined to a wheelchair and offers them hope and encouragement.

Catriona says she has received overwhelming support since the accident and is keen to share a special message with the community. “I know people may feel sorry for me but it’s good to remember that it’s my body that’s a little broken, and not my personality! This is true of everyone in a chair.”

In November 2010 Catriona and 24 other friends (along with 35 supporters) completed the New York Marathon. In June/July 2013 Catriona along with two other Tetraplegics Rob Creagh and Neil Cudby assisted by a passionate group of able-bodied friends achieved a world first, hand cycling to Everest Base Camp. In 2014 Catriona gained a Top 3 spot in KiwibankNew Zealander of the Year, induction into the NRM NZ Horse of the Year Show Hall of Fame and was presented with one of the country’s honours, an MNZM. In 2015 CatWalk celebrated their 10 year anniversary.

Catriona remains positive that a cure will be discovered in her lifetime, but her motivation comes from improving the odds for those who will be affected by the condition in the future.