Lee’s story

Published: October 14 2022
Last updated: October 14 2022

On Monday 17 October, Lee Williamson is attempting to break a Guinness World Record. He is hoping to cover 100km in 24 hours in a manual wheelchair using one arm and one leg to propel.

Lee said: “After my diagnosis of epilepsy when I was 21, due to a forceps birth and scarring on my brain, I was unable to carry on in my chosen career as a chef. Unbeknown to me, I had suffered from epilepsy from a young age but had just slipped through the net. During my school years, my reports always said ‘daydreams, could/must do better’. Whilst I was working in kitchens, I was having absence seizures which made life a lot harder.

“Having been lucky enough to have worked in a number of top kitchens, I was released from my position as a chef after having a tonic-clonic seizure for the first time. I was put on a number of medicines and after a few years I was able to take up positions in hotel kitchens again. I was back in my element! However whilst I was taking part in the Young Chef of the Year competition, my seizures became more common. I’d made the finals and had just put too much pressure on myself. I needed to leave my position at the Wordsworth Hotel and my chances of competing again were finished. For a long time, I became depressed and suffered with my mental health. I managed to find work in sales which didn’t have the same sense of achievement but paid the bills!

“I wish that in this day and age people were less afraid of people with epilepsy. I also wish that people with epilepsy realise they can still achieve things and if pushed can gain records and achieve their own personal Everests. Within reason, and with the right safety measures in place, we can do stuff. My records are in gyms or, like my next challenge, around an outdoor athletics track – my own personal safety buffers.

16 years ago, Lee had a stroke which left him with a right-side paralysis and so he is taking on the challenge to break down barriers and inspire others to achieve their goals. Lee said, “I’m hoping to set this record in a standard non-racing wheelchair around Silkworth Athletics track in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear. The reason I’m using a standard wheelchair is to allow wheelchair users, like myself, to see that you can do challenges, and even break world records, without needing expensive equipment. I hope that this will encourage people to think ‘I can do that’ and have a shot.

“I have chosen to support and raise money for Epilepsy Action because I want to highlight that even though epilepsy is a ‘hidden illness’, people can live successfully. I also want to show that there is support available for people living with epilepsy and hopefully create more understanding about the condition.”

You can see updates on Lee’s Guinness World Record Attempt here

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