Working to support the spinal cord injured community

Providing mentoring and education. Supporting research that seeks to improve the quality of life for people living with a spinal cord injury.


Christa Dyson works to support the spinal cord injured community through her work as a mentor, a trustee to the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA), a member of the National Spinal Injuries Centre's Patient User Forum and their Research and Innovation Group,  a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for Stoke Mandeville Spinal Research, a Research Ambassador for NIHR Thames Valley and as a patient representative for her local GP surgery. She blogs about her experience living with a spinal cord injury.

Christa was spinal cord injured in November 1993 following a spinal stroke. Initially paralysed from the mid-chest down she went on to recover some mobility but never in her hands. She lives life as an incomplete tetraplegic and an unsteady 'walker'.

Sustaining her injury whilst living in The Netherlands, it was there she undertook all her early rehabilitation, first in the Sophia Revalidatie Centrum in The Hague and later in De Hoogstraat, Utrecht. 

She has since gone on to live in Oman and the USA, returning to live in The Netherlands in between. She is married, has brought up two children, has traveled extensively, worked continuously in the voluntary sector and supported numerous charitable ventures whilst living abroad.

In 2010 she returned to live in England and has since undergone two short periods of rehabilitation at the National Spinal Injuries Centre, Stoke Mandeville.  

She set up Focus Forwards early in 2012 as a platform to work from, using her overseas experiences and skills acquired to help support the spinal cord injured community.

In November 2012 she was elected into her first term as a Trustee for the Spinal Injuries Association, based in Milton Keynes, UK. She has since held positions on several committees and working groups, along with honary officer postions Vice Chair, Senior Vice Chair and standing in for the Chair on a temporary basis during 2019.

She presently serves on the SIA Board as Vice Chair and is a Director of SIA Enterprises. 

In April 2013 - October 2014 she was invited to join the James Lind Alliance Spinal Cord Injury Priority Setting Partnership as a patient representative on behalf of the Spinal Injuries Association. 

In July 2014 she was invited to join the Stoke Mandeville Spinal Unit User forum as a patient representative. 

In March 2016 - November 2017 she was invited to participte as a patient representative in a research study investigatng women's issues arising after spinal cord injiury led by the National Spinal Injuries Centre and Bucks New University.  

In February 2017 she was partenered with an assistance dog called Vann through the charity Dogs for Good, Banbury. 

In August 2019 she was invited to join the Scientific Advisory Board for Stoke Mandeville Spinal Research.

In September 2019 she was invited to become a patient representative for the National Spinal Injuries Ceentre Research and Innovation Group

In January 2020 she became a Reserach Ambassador for the National Institute for Health Research. 

In September 2020 she received an Award as the Outstanding Research Champion Patient Representative for the Thames Valley Research Awards

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much" - Helen Keller