Doing #BagsMore when the odds are against you

It’s easy to assume that the people who do #BagsMore in their communities are able-bodied, have loads of skills, and a lot of spare time on their hands.

But as we’ve travelled the country talking to local community champions, we’ve discovered that this assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. From people who work 60-hour weeks and still find the time to help out, to quadruple amputees, they’ve all proved that whatever your personal circumstances are, there’s always a way to give something back.

For Corinne Hutton, founder of Glasgow-based charity Finding Your Feet, the journey was far more difficult than most.

Corinne’s story

“In the past, I would give back by setting myself challenges: running marathons, climbing mountains, cycling miles and miles to raise money for good causes.”

“I ran my own business and had a 4 year old son, so it wasn’t exactly easy to find the time back then. But I did it all anyway – and then I got ill.”

In June 2013, Corinne contracted acute pneumonia, which then progressed to sepsis. To save her life, surgeons had to amputate both her legs below the knee, as well as her hands. She was now a quadruple amputee, and by her own admission, a shadow of her former self.

“I was completely out on a limb – but determined to get back on my feet,” says Corinne. “When my brothers broke me out of hospital so I could be there for Rory’s first day of school, that gave me the kick I needed.”

Defying the odds

Within four months, Corinne had defied the odds – and the doctors – and walked unaided on prosthetic legs. Having made remarkably swift progress, she set up Finding Your Feet almost immediately after getting out of hospital.

“I wanted to support other families who were affected by amputation and limb difference,” says Corinne. “I didn’t see why I should become less active after losing my limbs – and I thought other people might feel the same – so the aim was to start a whole range of sports and social inclusion initiatives for people dealing with the same thing I was.”

Finding her feet

Today, Finding Your Feet runs over 50 clubs a month across Scotland, with a few in Leeds too. Each one is dedicated to a different sport or activity – from swimming and skiing to climbing and crafts.

“If I can abseil off a multi-storey building with no hands, anyone can,” says Corinne, who is affectionately known as Scotland’s ‘Bionic Mum’. “As many as 30% of amputees don’t survive one year post-amputation, so helping people to see everything they’re capable of is incredibly important to me.”

Despite all the record-breaking achievements (Corinne is the first female quadruple amputee in history to conquer Ben Nevis), the charity’s most popular activity is as simple as a tea and coffee session. ‘Ampu-teas’ brings people living with limb loss and limb difference together for informal chats, table tennis, medical massage, mindfulness and 1:1 counselling.

And for those ‘Troopers’ who can’t attend in person, there’s even an online support forum, so people can get together online too.

“Isolation can be a huge problem for amputees,” explains Corinne. “So if we can find any way to bring people together – online or offline – we’ll do it.”

With the charity’s team of volunteers chauffeuring people all over Scotland to get to activity sessions, as well as fundraising, mentoring, coaching sports, and much more, it would seem that Corinne’s true to her word.

“I strongly believe that to reap success in life – whether it’s sporting success, personal achievements, or running a charity – it all comes to down to the attitude you choose to adopt,” says Corinne.

We think it’s safe to say that hers is as positive as it gets.

Are you a volunteer in your community? Share your experiences with us on Facebook or Twitter.