Luke Alderton (23) has never known life outside of a wheelchair. At 6 months of age Luke experienced the onset of Transverse Myelitis resulting in a C2-C7 incomplete spinal cord injury. A long recovery period followed with some months in Starship hospital before parents, Alison and Steve, took Luke home to join big sister Emma.

Fast forward to November 2023 and I had the immense pleasure of meeting Luke, Alison and Steve recently at their home in Christchurch. At this time Luke had just wrapped up his final exams at Canterbury University, and was poised to be admitted to the Bar as a Barrister and Solicitor in December following the completion of his LLB.

A young man brimming with enthusiasm and a thirst for knowledge, Luke has not only earned his LLB but also achieved a BA with a double major in Economics, Political Sciences and International Relations.

The period of study during the COVID-19 pandemic brought about challenges with restrictions preventing physical presence on campus. Luke pointed out that it did not compromise the quality of the study but the loss of connections with people was noticeable. While his involvement in the Political Science club helped him maintain connections during those years, it’s worth noting that he predominantly remained within the confines of his home. Ironically, Luke contracted COVID-19 at a family wedding, and, apart from a temporary dip in energy levels at the time, he has experienced no lasting effects.

During his time at Canterbury University, Luke found invaluable support from Disability Services (now known as Student Accessibility Services). This support extended beyond helping with campus logistics, encompassing technology assistance and note-taking support. Luke expressed his appreciation, saying, ‘They were top notch,’ as they empowered him to fully engage with his fellow students on an equal footing.

Having sustained his injury as a baby, Luke retains no memories of his early rehabilitation. He attributes his recovery to the dedication and thorough research his parents undertook to ensure he had access to every available resource as he grew. Part of his current daily routine involves spending time in a standing frame, which helps him maintain his physical fitness and also aids in managing his rather robust spasms – which Luke humorously likens to ‘a bit like riding a bike at times!’ He views these spasms positively though, as they help keep his muscles toned and assist with blood pressure regulation. Additionally, at the age of 12, rods were surgically placed in his back to address the onset of scoliosis.

Luke is passionate about sports and embarked on his journey in power chair football at the age of 9. His commitment and skill led him to represent New Zealand on the international stage, serving as team captain from 2018 until he recently decided to take a hiatus. This unique sport is predominantly played in international competitions and the Australian domestic league, and in recent years, New Zealand has witnessed a decline in its participation. Currently, there is a concerted effort to revitalize the sport in New Zealand, and Luke, along with his parents, are enthusiastic about promoting the sport and encouraging more individuals to get involved.

With his exams behind him, Luke now has a couple of months to unwind before he assumes a position within the tax team at PwC, beginning in 2024. This role was offered to him following a successful internship during
his studies.

As he contemplates his future, Luke eagerly anticipates a forthcoming journey with PwC. In addition to his professional aspirations, he nurtures a deep passion for politics and aspires to contribute to positive change, whether through a visible or behind-the-scenes role. He recognizes the importance of diverse voices in addressing the multitude of challenges in today’s world.

Having spent a couple of hours in Luke’s company, I am confident that his positive energy will continue to empower both himself and others for a bright future.

CatWalk Magazine - Dec 2023 - Luke Alderton
CatWalk Magazine - Dec 2023 - Luke Alderton
Catwalk Magazine – December 2023
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