Portsmouth wheelchair user suffered abuse during training

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A DISABLED fundraiser who was badly injured in a hit-and-run has said he often faces abuse while training on Portsmouth’s roads.

Paul Smith, of Cosham, was training to push himself up the Rock of Gibraltar to raise £100,000 for children’s charities when a car crashed into him, jeopardising his chance of completing his challenge.

Paul Smith

Paul Smith

Video shows Paul talking about the hit-and-run, and how it has affected his training

Now the determined 56-year-old has told The News that drivers shout abuse at him while he is out training – but that has not stopped him from attempting to finish the task.

He has faced similar incidents on the roads before.

Paul said: ‘We’ve had close misses by people doing the same thing. In the past people have shouted abuse at me, called me names.

9/1/2015 (NEWS)''On the 28th December Paul Smith (56) from Cosham, was involved in a hit and run. For the last nine and a half months Paul has been training to push himself up to the top of Gibraltar Rock in April 2015, but has had a set back due to the incident.''Picture: Sarah Standing (150004-3188) PPP-150901-183007001

9/1/2015 (NEWS)''On the 28th December Paul Smith (56) from Cosham, was involved in a hit and run. For the last nine and a half months Paul has been training to push himself up to the top of Gibraltar Rock in April 2015, but has had a set back due to the incident.''Picture: Sarah Standing (150004-3188) PPP-150901-183007001

‘I don’t understand why they would try and do it.’

Paul trains in his wheelchair on the roads in the city and travels up to seven miles per hour.

As reported, he was spun out of his chair when a car swerved into him after matching his speed on Havant Road on his way to Farlington.

The challenge to push himself the 2.7 miles up the Rock of Gibraltar is still due to take place in April.

Paul’s determination has won praise from the principal officer of Portsmouth Disability Forum.

Lynne Rigby said: ‘He is setting an example to everybody about what can be achieved even though his circumstances have been very hard.

‘What a positive role model for lots of people, not only disabled people but able-bodied people as well.’

But Ms Rigby told added disability discrimination still exists.

‘Even though the conditions like access to buildings and physical access have improved dramatically, sadly the attitude issues are still there,’ she said.

‘It’s a lack of consideration towards other people and people’s attitudes that can create the barriers.’

Paul, who suffered head injuries after a car crash in 1991, has raised more than £2m since taking on fundraising challenges.

He has spent nearly 10 months training for the Gibraltar challenge.

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