IF you’re following your dream, the universe will present you with opportunities. I have always believed that you just have to be aware of the world around you to see them.

When you’re paralysed you try to find things you can do that give you some element of freedom, where you feel alive and not fighting your body.

Cycling and swimming give me this and for these short moments each day I am pain-free and feel alive. However, something happened this week that gave me a feeling I haven’t had since paralysis.

In Jamaica, I am surrounded by the ocean. I have spent a huge amount of time in it on this trip. Connecting with the ocean is a very powerful thing. It is a very special experience, especially when you’re paralysed. To feel the water around your body is like nothing else I have felt post-injury.

Going back to the universe sending you signs, a few weeks ago I saw a photo of someone surfing and my immediate thought was ‘God, I would love to do that’. Taking up surfing would be problematic for someone with paralysis, but maybe there was a way.

I sat down looking through the internet and decided to e-mail the World Surfing Association. This was then followed by a quick introduction to Icah Wilmot, Jamaica’s first pro surfer.

Jamaica’s first surfing family can be found in Eight Miles Bull Bay, which sits about eight miles outside Kingston. It is the home to Jamaica’s surfing community so I decided to drive down to go meet Icah.

It took my breath away – a glimpse of the ocean and next to it the surf camp, or should I say the Wilmot family home.

I stop the car and am met by a couple of friendly dogs and then the relaxed figure of Iach. In my mind I thought I will just say hello today as Icah not only surfs but runs an education program for local kids at 1pm each day at the skate park.

But it’s “we have 20 minutes, let’s go catch a wave,” then before I know it I am in the water with Wilmot and a traveling German reggae artist and surfer called Dayton Levi.

There wasn’t much swell each time I went but as the guys say, it’s just about being in the water. There is a mystic feeling or energy around just laying on the board.

You feel more connected to the world, more present in the moment, and as I paddled to catch a wave, nothing else mattered.

It is like nothing I have ever experienced. I now know surfing is going to be a big part of my life.

Like everyone, Covid has hit these guys hard. They have created a surfing paradise out of their home and this is not just about catching waves, this is a lifestyle. Known as Jamnesia, it is a positive mentoring program for local children to learn surfing, and get help with their schoolwork.

With Covid closing schools, what the Wilmots are doing here transcends sport. Gang culture is huge on the island, so by creating surf education programs the Wilmots are changing lives. The surf camp comes alive with music sessions each week which have been graced by some of Jamaica’s hottest new acts over the years.

For me it has become a new spiritual home. And where my surfing journey began.