A Q&A session with Andrew Skinner, GB Paralympic sitting volleyball player

How did you get into representing GB in volleyball and golf? 

When I first became an amputee, I emailed every Paralympics GB department telling them what I could do and then waited. London had just won the rights to host the 2012 games. Gradually emails started to come back asking various question. I was then invited to a talent ID day at Loughborough University. I went there and completed all the tests, tried various sports, which included Sitting Volleyball and the next day I got invited to train with the squad. The rest is history; over 30 caps for GB and I have played around the world as a player with team GB Sitting Volleyball. 

I retired after 2012 from Volleyball. Playing took its toll on the ageing body. So, golf them came a knocking. I hadn’t played for many years and basically started again. I practiced day and night to get a good playing handicap and played a few events on the EDGA disabled European Tour, getting to 9th in Europe for my classification. Like most disability sports, it’s all self-funding, and as I had a young family at the time, I couldn’t afford the golf anymore. 

What has been your career highlight?

Putting on my GB shirt for the first time; nothing beats how proud you feel, knowing all the hard work and sacrifices that have been made finally pays off. 

You have been involved in some amazing charity events – can you tell us a bit more about this and how you find the motivation to complete them? Kilimanjaro sounds incredible!  

Helping disability charities means helping other people with a disability. I got involved with LimbPower whilst playing Sitting Volleyball with GB. From then I went on to become a mentor for other amputees. When you are released from hospital, there is nothing there for you, so charities like LimbPower are there to help those that need either the inspiration to try new things, or answer questions that need answering. 

Each year charities need the funding and donations to keep going. I was asked to do Kilimanjaro and the answer was an immediate yes. The experience was amazing and also the toughest thing if ever done. It was so worthwhile and raised some great funds needed so the Amputee games could continue. A year later I did the London to Paris ride for LimbPower as well. As you can see, I like to set myself challenges.

I also did a reality dating show for TLC a few years ago, now that was interesting. Last year I was supposed to travel the world and make a vlog / podcast/ YouTube channel (The Amputee Diaries), so amputees could see how easy it is to get out and about and try new things that puts them out of their comfort zone. I managed South America and then the pandemic hit us all. I hope to resume this once we are all able to. 

If you could change anything to improve the lives of people with a disability, what would it be? 

People need help and advice when you become a person with a disability, and it's in short supply. We all deal with it in our own way. I know people aren’t as gung hoe as me, but if you don’t try, you will never know. I’m more than happy to chat with anyone to tell my story and answer any question they have.

How did you first get into using Flexyfoot? 

I was at the Amputee Games as a mentor some years ago, and someone was using the FlexyFoot ferrules and the black crutches. I asked to have a go and was hooked using them. I have never looked back. 

Why did you choose Flexyfoot? 

They are comfortable and easy on the hands and shoulders, plus they look good too. Get the black crutches as well to compliment the ferrules. 1000% better than health service ones.