MEET OUR PATRON:
LOUISE HUNT-SKELLY - PARALYMPIAN, COMMENTATOR, PUBLIC SPEAKER
Louise, who lives in Swindon, enjoyed a successful playing career for many years – and before that she was a leading wheelchair racer. She represented Great Britain in tennis at both the Rio and Tokyo Paralympics, and won 13 singles and 41 doubles titles, with a career-high ranking of 10.
She first became involved with Path to Success when the charity began supporting her while she was competing as a Paralympian in 2018.
“Path to Success provided me with a grant each year until I retired,” Louise said. “After I stopped competing at an elite level they asked me if I wanted to stay involved, using my knowledge and experiences to advise them and support their work.”
On her new role, Louise said: “I felt humbled when they asked me to be a patron. It showed me how much they care as a charity. I don’t want to be seen as just a figurehead. The charity wants to go to the next level and I want to help them achieve their goals and ambitions in a very practical manner.
“As well as offering advice to the charity itself, my role involves helping to promote Path to Success to aspiring female Paralympians and to businesses and organisations that might be looking at ways of making a real and lasting impact. I am here to tell them that they can do so by financially supporting charities like ours and helping female Paralympians achieve their goals on the Path to Paris 2024.”
Path to Success was established in 2006 by founder, Anita Choudhrie MBE who is known as a philanthropist. At its heart the charity has a mission to support and empower female athletes competing in disability sports. Currently, the charity supports athletes competing in wheelchair basketball, para-badminton, wheelchair tennis and para-powerlifting, although it has ambitions to support even more athletes in a wider range of sports.
Nasim Malhotra, Path to Success director of planning and operations, said: “Louise has an amazing personality, she is lively, positive and full of energy. She is hard-working and enthusiastic, a role model to many, and respected on social media and by her peers.
“With her background, expertise, determination and commitment, Louise brings a wealth of knowledge, awareness and experience to the charity. She will help us to strengthen our approach to ‘empowering female para-athletes’. Louise will help us to widen our reach to new contacts, raise awareness of disability sports and help us to raise more funds for female para-athletes on their Path to Paris 2024. We are very excited and grateful for her time and support.”
Many disabled athletes self-fund the majority of their careers. Competing at a professional and Paralympic level can cost anywhere between £25,000 to £50,000 a year. This covers the cost of coaching, equipment, a nutritionist, support team, tournaments and travel. It goes without saying that there is still a huge gulf in recognition, sponsorship and financial support received by para-athletes compared to able-bodied athletes.
The pandemic had a major impact on the charity’s financial situation and its immediate aim is to raise funds so that it can continue to support its current para-athletes. The ultimate aim is to support even more athletes in more sports.