The CatWalk Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)
The CatWalk Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Research Trust was founded in 2005 by Catriona Williams MNZM, formerly one of New Zealand’s leading international equestrian riders. Following a riding accident in 2002, she is now C6/C7 tetraplegic and confined to a wheelchair.
Initially, a group of friends planned to fundraise for Williams herself – but a bigger picture quickly became clear. A cure for paralysis was Williams’ dream – and so CatWalk was born. We believe in supporting researchers in the very realistic bid for a cure for spinal cord injuries.
Catrionas’ illustrious equestrian career saw her reach the pinnacle of the show jumping and three-day event world. She represented New Zealand on the international stage at Badminton and the Open European Championships with the key target being the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Since that life changing moment in 2002, Catriona has completed the New York City Marathon and climbed to Everest Base Camp on a handcycle, was a finalist in the 2014 KiwiBank New Zealander of the Year, inducted into the NZ Horse of the Year Show Hall of Fame, recognised in the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours list as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit and most recently was the Community and Not for Profit sector winner at the 2016 NZ Women of Influence Awards.
- Support the scientific opinion that a cure for SCI can be found.
- Promote and generate funding for research into a cure for paralysis.
- Identify and assist in medical research and development into techniques designed for the regeneration of the effects of spinal cord injuries.
- Monitor the research progress of all scientists funded by the Trust.
- Provide targeted assistance to organisations working on projects that promote the purpose of the Trust.
- Disseminate information about research into SCI.
- Foster cooperation between all disciplines engaged in central nervous system research, regeneration and direct relief.
- Cooperate with international efforts in this field.
The CatWalk Spinal Cord Injury Research Trust is registered as a Charitable Trust under the Charities Act 2005.
Charities Commission Registration No. CC27170
Meet The CatWalk SCI Research Trust Board of Directors:
David has worked for First NZ Capital since November 2011, and before that Macquarie Private Wealth and BNZ Private Bank. He works as a qualified Authorised Financial Advisor (AFA) and has a Bachelor of Commerce degree, majoring in Marketing, plus a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) qualification.
David and wife Natasha emigrated to New Zealand from Cape Town in 2004 with their young family. Their two daughters, Alexandra (13) and Holly (11), have become extremely passionate about horses, culminating in the family buying two horses earlier this year which are currently stabled on their property in Dairy Flat. The weekend routine now revolves around all things horse-riding and David’s sad realisation that he will never have time to own and run a boat around Auckland’s beautiful waterways.
Due to Holly being wheelchair bound since the age of 7, David and Natasha have engaged with several organisations globally that have spinal cord injury rehab and cure as their main objectives. Through this global network of dedicated people, they were introduced to Catriona Williams in 2013, and a close friendship has ensued. David and Natasha’s greatest desire is to see Holly walk again, which will only happen if this injury is cured completely for all people.
Deb has been involved in the not-for-profit sector for many years in a variety of roles, and most recently as a project manager for the CatWalk Trust.
She was introduced to CatWalk by deputy chairman Dave Pretorius several years ago, and has become a passionate advocate of the work being done and progress being made by the talented and dedicated team at the Centre of Brain Research at Auckland University.
“It thrills me that our New Zealand scientists are leaders in the ground breaking research that will ultimately provide global solutions towards the complications arising from spinal cord injuries. And I believe the contribution and support provided by the CatWalk Trust will ultimately result in dramatic improvements in the lives of those suffering from such injuries.”
Tonia is an independent director involved in a wide variety of organisations in the sporting, manufacturing and aged care sectors.
Tonia is also the Director of her own advisory company Pro-ject Management, working alongside private enterprise, not-for-profits and local authorities to help develop strategic initiatives including clarity for business growth strategies, brand and culture developments.
Shoulder tapped by founding trustee Pip McCarroll, Tonia has joined the board and quickly injected her skills and enthusiasm to the team.
“It’s a privilege to contribute to the work the Trust has been pursuing for over a decade and to sit at the table and roll up my sleeves alongside such dedicated and capable people. Backing ground-breaking research to find a cure is vital, and challenging. It’s the belief and commitment from every stakeholder that will help us all to find the cure for wheelies to walk again.”
In 1977 at the age of 15, Grant Sharman suffered a broken neck as the result of a rugby injury. He wanted to be a pilot in the airforce flying Hercules but his injury ended that dream. In 1980 Grant was introduced to painting using a brush in his mouth and after being accepted as a student artist in 1981, by 1988 Grant was made a ‘full member’ of the Association of Mouth & Foot Painting Artists.
Despite breaking his neck playing rugby, Grant took up wheelchair rugby and captained the national team, the Wheel Blacks, at two Paralympic Games – Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000, and the 1998 World Championships in Toronto. Grant coached the Wheel Blacks to a Gold medal at the Athens Paralympics in 2004. He was High Perfomance Director for Paralympics NZ from 2006-2011 and was a presenter and Associate Producer with Attitude TV for a number of years.
Grant is the Chairperson of Parafed Auckland and a proud Trustee of the CatWalk Trust.
With over 25 years of experience in the fields of Management, Public Relations, Marketing, Sponsorship and Philanthropy, and having owned her own retail business, Kim has a very broad outlook on life and varied life experience. With a Bachelor of Arts in Japanese, Korean and Education, she has travelled and worked overseas, and has a great mix of both commercial and for purpose roles.
Kim is the New Zealand Director for the Private Wealth Network. Prior to this she served as Executive Director for the Auckland Medical Research Foundation, and remains very committed to the cause after nearly seven exciting years. During this time she also served on the Board of Philanthropy NZ as Deputy Chair, so brings considerable expertise in this area.
She has a strong network of commercial, community, and government contacts and we feel she will serve our donors and mission well, particularly with our goal to make leaps and bounds in spinal cord injury.
Tom’s history has been built on action balanced with a service ethic. Formerly an army officer, he has been working with charities as a strategic income advisor since 2007. In this time, he has been responsible for organisational transformations and multi-million dollar fundraising campaigns in New Zealand, Australia and the UK.
Tom’s speciality is harnessing the power of the charitable dollar when it is applied for results. As such, he has a wealth of experience of leading practical change at Board level across the non-profit sector.
Tom was asked to join the board at an exciting time in the Trust’s life and was inspired by the determination and drive of all those involved in CatWalk. He feels privileged to be part of the ‘A team’ built by the founders to make permanent spinal cord injury a thing of the past.
Tom has a BSc and is one of only 21 New Zealanders to be an internationally Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE)”
Louise Nicholson is passionate about CatWalk and finding a cure for spinal cord injury.
A graduate of the University of Auckland, Louise did her postdoctoral work at Oxford University and has since been a member of the staff at the University of Auckland. Louise has served on numerous University/Faculty, community and national/international professional committees, and has established an international reputation for her research on neurodegenerative diseases of the human brain and spinal cord. In 2011, together with colleagues, and with the support of CatWalk, she established the first national Spinal Cord Injury Research Facility in the Centre for Brain Research.
She is passionate about her role as a researcher, sharing her drive and desire to make a difference to people’s lives and get those in wheelchairs back on their feet. Louise recently retired from the University of Auckland, and now as a member of the CatWalk Board she will be using her long-standing research knowledge and experience in the very best way to help make well-informed decisions in supporting research to find a cure for spinal cord injury.
Paul Wilcox has been CEO of Auckland Racing Club (ARC) since 2017. As part of his role in heading up New Zealand’s only world-class thoroughbred racing venue, he is responsible for the Club’s strategic direction and business performance across all business units, including racedays, a 364-day-operational event centre and a large property portfolio.
Prior to his arrival at ARC, Paul was a Director of both New Zealand Bloodstock and Pencarrow Thoroughbreds, having held those positions since 2013 following previous roles at Lion.
Well-known for his contagiously positive energy, Paul is a firm believer in that while you may not be able to change the way the wind blows, you can change the way you set your sails.
Born in Matamata, New Zealand, Paul is married to wife Jo, with whom he shares two daughters. Having a friendship with Catriona Williams has given Paul a real insight into the work of the CatWalk Trust, and he sees his involvement as aligning well to his mantra of giving back to those in need. Helping to raise funds for research into spinal injuries in the hope of finding a cure is the driving force behind Paul’s desire to join the Trust. His ultimate wish is to see “wheelies walking again”.