Our Founder

The CatWalk Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Research Trust

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.

Through CatWalk, we strive to make Catriona’s dream a reality by supporting groundbreaking research and fostering hope for those affected by spinal cord injuries.

Our Key Objectives are:

  • Support the scientific opinion that a cure for SCI can be found.
  • Generate and distribute funding for research into a cure for paralysis.
  • Identify and enable medical research and development into techniques designed for the regeneration of the effects of spinal cord injuries.
  • Monitor the research progress of all researchers funded by the Trust.
  • Provide targeted assistance to research organisations working on projects that support the purpose of the Trust.
  • Disseminate information about research into SCI.
  • Foster collaboration among all fields engaged in research on the central nervous system, its regeneration, and the alleviation of resulting symptoms.

Our Board

Meet The CatWalk SCI Research Trust Board of Directors:

David has worked for Jarden Ltd since November 2011, and before that Macquarie Private Wealth and BNZ Private Bank. He is an Authorised Financial Advisor (AFA), has a Bachelor of Commerce degree and completed the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation in 1999.

In 2010, his three children were involved in a car accident which has left his middle child, Holly, paralysed from the waist down due to the car’s seatbelt almost severing her in half. She was 6 at the time, and her 4-year old brother was killed instantly.  Living with and caring for a paralysed child has opened David’s mind to the awfulness of the injury, and he has dedicated much of his time since in gaining a deeper understanding of spinal cord injury and the global search for a cure.

David was introduced to Catriona Williams in 2013, and a close friendship ensued. David joined the CatWalk Board in 2014, and was appointed Chairman in 2018.  As of November 2019, David has completed the New York marathon five times on behalf of Team CatWalk, and he managed to round up 67 other runners to join him there over these past 5 years.  The collective effort has raised over $825,000 to further the cause of spinal injury cure.  David’s greatest desire is to see Holly 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.

Renowned neuroscientist Professor Martyn Goulding, Ph.D, joins CatWalk in his position at The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in the USA, where he is the Professor and Departmental Chair of the Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory and the Frederick W. and Joanna J. Mitchell Endowed Chair.

With a distinguished career in unraveling the complexities of neural circuits in the spinal cord, Professor Goulding brings unparalleled expertise to this crucial intersection of science and advocacy. His groundbreaking work, marked by a keen understanding of the intricacies of the nervous system, has earned him international acclaim, including the prestigious Brain Prize in 2022 for his pioneering work. https://lundbeckfonden.com/the-brain-prize/circuits-movement-2022

As a board member, his commitment to advancing spinal cord injury research aligns seamlessly with the Trust’s mission to fund innovative projects that offer hope to those affected. His strategic vision and scientific acumen will be invaluable to the Trust as we head towards a future marked by transformative breakthroughs in spinal cord injury treatment and rehabilitation.

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”.

After graduating from University of Auckland Medical School in 2005, Simon successfully completed the New Zealand Orthopaedics Association’s training program and was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in 2014.
Along with his family, he then spent two years overseas sub-specialising in adult spinal pathologies; firstly at the Austin Hospital in Melbourne and then at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, Canada.
Simon has a public appointment as an Orthopaedic Spine Surgeon at Counties Manakau DHB, where he has been working since returning to New Zealand in 2017.

Simon is part of the Northern Supra-regional Spinal Cord Service based at Middlemore Hospital, where the acute care for patients with traumatic spinal cord injuries from the Upper North Island are referred.

He is passionate about finding a cure for spinal cord injuries and is excited to be a part of The CatWalk Trust, linking ground-breaking research with clinical medicine.

Kirsty has a nursing career that has spanned 30 yrs specialising in Orthopaedics, trauma and spinal injuries.

Her nursing background at the Burwood Spinal unit gives her an integral understanding of spinal injuries and the life changing effects it has on these people and their families.

Having this lived experience gives her the drive to ensure continued support for The CatWalk Trust

Kirsty has also worked in the NFP sector for a number of years helping to raise profiles, fundraising strategy and sponsorship.

Making a difference is her mantra.

Spinal Cord research is gaining momentum, adding value through this time of growth is something Kirsty wants to be a part of.

Tara is currently Director of Engagement for the Royal Society Te Apārangi following on from her previous role as Head of Research for Cure Kids, investing in medical research with the potential to transform the health of children across Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.
After studying both Arts and Science, Tara completed a Masters (Hons) in Molecular Biology and Genetics, and began her career in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and at the Health Research Council of NZ. Moving to London, Tara spent 3 years writing and editing for medical journals at the World Health Organization and The Lancet. She then joined GlaxoSmithKline as a Science Advisor on Pandemic Influenza, and spent the next 10 years focused on controlling infectious diseases across Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands.
Tara brings a curious and creative approach, with a broad range of experience across the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors. She’s keen to apply her experience in biotechnology R&D to help the CatWalk Trust target its investments towards research which has the greatest potential to generate breakthroughs for people living with spinal cord injuries.

Lee (Waikato Tainui, Ngāti Maniapoto) is a dynamic force in community engagement and inclusivity. With a rich background in fostering diverse collaborations and advocating for accessibility, Lee brings a unique perspective to the intersection of community impact and medical research.
Lee is the CEO of Care Upfront, a dedicated homecare service provider to support those with complex or long-term care in the home. The needs of those requiring care are deeply understood by Lee who suffered a spinal cord injury at aged 13 when diving into a pool.
Lee’s appointment underscores the Trust’s dedication to a holistic approach in spinal cord injury research. With a proven track record in driving positive change, Lee’s passion for inclusivity aligns seamlessly with the Trust’s mission to improve the lives of individuals affected by spinal cord injuries.


These remarkable individuals, known as CatWalk Ambassadors, generously dedicate their time and energy to support the Trust’s mission of finding a cure for spinal cord injuries. They consistently go that extra mile, and we would like you to meet them!

Sophia Malthus is a C4/5 quadraplegic after a horse-riding accident in 2016, when she was 19 years old.

During her stay at the Auckland Spinal Unit, a message in a letter sent by CatWalk Trust founder Catriona Williams helped Sophia to persevere: “never stop trying to wiggle your toes”.

And while Sophia initially focused on walking again, wiggling her toes has taken on a whole new meaning.

“Early on I placed a lot of my energy into walking again, but there came a point where I had to re-evaluate my priorities and focus on making the most of my new life.”

“That’s why I think this ambassadorship is so important – it’s me continuing to persevere, me ‘trying to wiggle my toes’.

Because I chose to focus my efforts on my new normal, I can now channel my initial motivation of walking in a new direction where I can hopefully make a difference for everyone in the SCI community, not just for myself.”

As well as being an ambassador for the Trust, Sophia is currently studying Law, working as a legal assistant for YouthLaw, and mentoring a 9 year old girl who lives with achondroplasia.

Sophia strives to be a ‘how-to’ resource for other young people navigating new injuries, and hopes to one day provide legal advice and education to ensure young people are informed of their SCI related entitlements.

By sharing specific parts of her life on social media, she “just wants to normalise it. Not everyone with a disability has the same opportunities that I’ve had, and it’s important for people to see the day-to-day of living with a disability, not just the glossy inspirational stuff.”

Penny has been a wonderful CatWalk supporter since day one and is always the first to offer when help is needed. Penny is the proud owner of the Trelise Cooper Wellington Flagship Store and the Designer Clothing Gallery in Greytown. She has held several DCG sales raising money for CatWalk and attended many of our events. Penny travelled to New York with Team CatWalk in 2010 and is a member of The BIG Cycle team for 2013 as well. Penny says she

“loves being part of such a dynamic and passionate group of people and Catriona is ever inspiring. It is exciting to be part of the team and see significant advances towards our goal through research which is aided by grants from The CatWalk Trust. Added to this is the fun and opportunities we have by being part of CatWalk! The BIG Cycle is certainly a BIG challenge for me: when my personal trainer winds up the resistance on my spin bike and commands “4 minutes, flat out, NOW!” I have to remind myself it’s all for CatWalk – otherwise I’d probably just hit him!!”

I have been fortunate enough to have been brought up in the New Zealand countryside surrounded by horses.  My mother ran a riding school and my father was a dentist, and also a keen polo player.  My father was in his early thirties when MS (Multiple sclerosis) put him in a wheel chair, he put up a brave fight but passed away ten years later.  I competed alongside Catriona for many years before her accident, we both aspired for similar goals.  I don’t recall ever beating her, she is, as you know, a great competitor.  I competed at both the Beijing and Athens Olympics as well as the world games in Spain and Germany.  I placed 7th at the Olympics and world games individually.  I am currently an Olympic Ambassador teaching Olympic values to NZ schools.

I have been involved and interested in the work of The CatWalk Trust with my knowledge of Catriona, the equestrian sport and by my father.

Nick Mannix –   31 December 2014: The day life changed in an instant. Nicko was at a party when he was run over by a car – twice – leaving him a high-level tetraplegic.  Nicko speaks to groups and schools about resilience and positivity.  In telling his story, Nicko gives people an insight into living with a spinal cord injury and how big an effect it has not only on himself but on others around him. Nicko inspires people to be who they are and follow their dreams. BKOW also support research financially through the sale of their clothing line.

Needing assistance to do even the simplest things in life. – he also suffers from neuropathic pain on a daily basis. Yet despite this, Nicko has not let his injury stop him.  He is determined he will walk again, and is dedicated to a future where SCI no longer means paralysis for life.

Kate was a member of CatWalk’s 2010 New York Marathon team. She has been involved with CatWalk since the beginning as a friend of Catriona’s. She works to prevent spinal cord injuries with her business importing and distributing air vests for horse riders and donates a portion of her profits from this to CatWalk.

Anna is the founder of Hiatt & Co.

Based in Wanaka, Hiatt & Co is a business that is on a mission to reunite New Zealanders with the pride and joy of gathering healthy, delicious produce from their very own gorgeous edible garden. Hiatt & Co make it simple  for busy beginner gardeners to create gorgeous edible gardens that are a feast for your eyes as well as your plate. When not in the garden Anna enjoys spending her time keeping fit or sharing her love of food and wine with family and friends.

I spent three and a half months in Burwood Spinal Unit with  fractured T 5,6 & 7. I was fortunate to be one of the ‘lucky’ ones able to walk out of there so am committed to helping those less lucky than me. To be involved in CatWalk is an utter pleasure. After spending time with Cat Williams and Hamish Ramsden, witnessing their infectious enthusiasm, how positively they cope with daily challenges of life that we easily take for granted. I have a deep admiration for both of them and they are a constant inspiration to me personally and many others to positively live life no matter what cards we are dealt.

In one way or another, Gracie has been involved in the media and creative industries now for about 7 years. Everything from traditional newsroom journalism, hosting live radio and TV broadcasting, producing current affairs stories, website and digital management and social media.

Based in Auckland, Gracie epitomises the young successful woman of today and CatWalk are so fortunate to have her join us in an ambassador role.

“I am so honoured to be a Catwalk Ambassador! I have always loved what the trust stands for and I’m excited to be on board”.

Debbie is a Human and Equine Sports Therapist who has run her own business for the last 6 years. Debbie was the soft tissue therapist at the 2012 London Olympics for the NZ Para-Equestrian team and she also attended the World Games in Normandy 2014 in the same role.

Debbie is now based in the UK, after 12 years in NZ  and is passionate about bringing the work of the CatWalk Trust to a wider audience.

‘… after working closely with a group of courageous and inspiring people that make up the global para equestrian community, I became acutely aware of the importance of the work the Trust is doing. It is an absolute honour and privilege to be on board as an Ambassador, and I will support the team and their endeavours wholeheartedly …’

Hamish has been a C5/C6 tetraplegic since the end of 1994 as a result of a farming accident. After the sale of the family farm he remained involved in the farming industry through a sheep and cattle genetics company of which he was one of the original founders and shareholders. He then went on to run the Burwood Spinal Unit Education Group along with administering The Fathering the Future Trust for a period of years. Upon leaving those roles, he has, since 2009, volunteered at a local Christchurch school in their Learning Support Department helping children who need some extra literacy support. He continues to be an avid supporter of The Catwalk Trust, and their efforts to raise funds to find a cure for paralysis.

Oliver Bradshaw works for financial firm UBS and lives in Auckland. He became a member of the Catwalk team in 2012 when he raised money for the charity by running in the New York City Marathon. Since then he has continued to participate in events to raise funds for CatWalk.

Writing this I realise how lucky I have been to meet so many inspirational people through CatWalk. It’s an honour to have met Catriona Williams and to witness the exceptional and dedicated team around her. After seeing what the Catwalk team are doing I also wanted to do my bit to find a cure for SCI.’

I am Jamie Astwood and in 2013 I broke my T6/7/8 in a sand boarding accident in Northland.

I am determined  I am going to walk again. Every night as I’m going to sleep I try and wiggle my toes and every day visualise walking.

CatWalk is an incredible support network and they’ve always got my back… excuse the pun! When I met Catriona back in 2015 she said to surround yourself with good people who support you and always have a positive attitude and keep smiling. No one likes to hang around a negative nancy!

I plan to get on with my life as normal as possible, working and spending time with my good friends and family. I look forward to seeing the advancements with the continuing research that CatWalk is involved in.

Sita Tarini Clark is a final year medical student at the University of Auckland. She has a keen interest in academic medicine and surgical research, having completed a BMedSc(Honours) year at the Department of Surgery in 2020.

Sita initiated and led a significant fundraising event in support of CatWalk.ThirtyEight in 38 involved a team of 13 young professionals individually climbing Mauao (Mount Maunganui) 38 times (the equivalent height of Mount Everest) in 38 hours, to fundraise money for, and raise awareness of, The CatWalk Trust. Through organising ThirtyEightin38, Sita and the team were able to raise significant publicity for people living with spinal cord injury in NZ, with social media and radio campaigns and exposure in print media. The team, on average, completed the challenge in 35 hours, which included: 8,850m of elevation, 113km in distance, >150K+ steps and >2450 flights of stairs climbed. Ultimately, Sita and the Thirtyeightin38 team raised $33,674.81 in support of CatWalk’s critical mission.

Sita’s contribution to CatWalk has not stopped with ThirtyEightin38. She has since stayed in contact with Catriona Williams and plans to join CatWalk’s New York Marathon team and continue fundraising for spinal cord injury through future local and personal initiatives. She is honoured to become an Ambassador for CatWalk and hopes to initiate other creative fundraisers in the future, in support of CatWalk.

Carolyn Beaver hails from Whangarei and is a qualified vet who specialised in small animal health.  Carolyn suffered her SCI in November 2006 which left her a C5/6 incomplete tetraplegic.  After surgery and 6 months rehabilitation in the UK, Carolyn came home to NZ for further rehabilitation at Burwood Spinal Unit.  Her goal was to be able to gain enough movement in her legs to walk down the aisle of her wedding 13 months later – a goal she achieved when on 28th Feb 2009 and with the support of her Dad on her right arm and her brother on her left arm, Carolyn married her fiance, South African vet,  Doug Passmore.

Whilst carrying out her rehabilitation in 2008 Carolyn took on a job as a research assistant for the Burwood Academy of Independent Living (BAIL) who were involved in a SCI Life Histories research project run by Massey University. It was the first project of its kind in NZ to follow the lives of NZers affected by SCI throughout the first two years following their impairment, so see how their SCI shaped their lives, their choices and chances in life. Through her involvement with this project, Carolyn undertook postgraduate study in human rehabilitation through the University of Otago and graduated with distinction in 2012.

“It also became apparent to me, both personally and through talking to the participants if the SCI life histories project, that the first 2 years following SCI are very early days in the path to recovery and rehabilitation and where life may lead. So subsequently further funding was applied for to have a follow-up study with the participants some years later.  This follow up study was approved and I continue my work with Massey University in this study currently”.

Ian suffered a spinal cord injury a number of years ago but was fortunate to be a lucky near miss! He owns the renowned Village Goldsmith and has supported CatWalk frequently with highly sought after auction prizes.

Charlotte Gendall is a Wellington-based former broadcast journalist turned communications specialist who has taken a special interest in CatWalk since its inception. A long-time friend of Catriona’s, Charlotte’s possessed of the ability to set her emotional engagement to one side and provide constructive criticism and feedback on what’s going to be in CatWalk’s best interests. Since our founding, she’s turned her professional skills to help in numerous community engagement, fundraising and information projects, particularly through our magazine.  Charlotte says her finest hour was undoubtedly running the 2014 New York Marathon and raising $26,000 for CatWalk. “I didn’t think I had it in me, but as usual, Catriona knew better!” says Charlotte.

Our Patrons

Our dedicated advocates for spinal cord injury research.
As stand out contributors in their chosen fields, our Patrons champion our cause through their networks and to the wider public.

Toni Street is a well respected and highly popular broadcast journalist, and television personality.
She can be seen every weeknight co-hosting TV ONE’s current affairs show, Seven Sharp alongside veteran broadcaster Mike Hosking.

Toni and her twin brother, Lance (who died at age 18 months from Leukaemia), were born in New Plymouth. She grew up in Taranaki, and attended New Plymouth Girls’ High School where she was head girl in her last year. Toni won a sporting scholarship to Lincoln University, Christchurch where she played cricket and studied commerce.

After graduation, Toni completed a post-graduate diploma in journalism at Canterbury University that led to a six-month internship at TVNZ’s newsroom in 2006. From there she was appointed to the ONE News sports desk where she worked as a reporter, presenter and host of major sporting events. Toni was a roving reporter at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, hosted the International netball tests, tennis’ Heineken Open and ASB Classics, and most recently the America’s Cup in San Francisco.

In 2012, Toni went on to co-host TV ONE Saturday Breakfast and then in 2013 made the transition to the weekday Breakfast show. She was invited to co-present Seven Sharp shortly afterwards. Toni also has a regular slot commentating on NewstalkZB, debating the weeks’ news every Friday with Mike Hosking and is a fill-in on ‘The Hits’ morning show.

Toni is married to ex North Harbour halfback Matt France and they have two daughters, Juliette, who was born in October 2012 and Mackenzie who was born in March 2015.

Lance Anthony O’Sullivan (ONZM) is the most successful jockey in New Zealand history. As an apprentice under the guidance of his father Dave, O’Sullivan won a total of 181 races, scoring his first victory on Her Highness in 1980. O’Sullivan went on to win the New Zealand Jockey Premiership a record 12 times, with a record 193 wins in the 2001-02 season. With an outstanding international reputation, O’Sullivan raced in Hong Kong, Japan, Turkey, Australia, Macau and Singapore and rode winners in all of these countries. His Japan Cup win on Horlicks in 1989 was a career highlight.

O’Sullivan is now retired from race riding and acts as an ambassador for the TAB, including TV work on TAB’s Trackside racing channel. A move by his brother Paul to train in Hong Kong means Lance has also taken on a new challenge as trainer at the family’s Wexford Stables in Matamata and – as with his results as a jockey — he is proving a formidable opponent. O’Sullivan is supported by his beautiful wife Bridgette and daughters Caitlin and Georgia.

New Zealand rugby star Richie McCaw teamed up with the CatWalk Trust in March 2007 and immediately made an impact with both the organisation and its supporters.

“Spinal cord injuries have a really serious impact on not only the person who’s been hurt but also on their family and friends. I’m really happy to lend my support to the CatWalk Trust to help raise funds to find a cure,” Richie said at the time of joining.

On the field, Richie McCaw has carved a stellar rugby career. The openside flanker was born and raised in Otago, where he started in the game as a seven year old. He now plays his rugby out of Christchurch and is widely regarded as the world’s best in his position. But it’s not all glamour and high profile lifestyles – Richie McCaw also has a strong sense of social responsibility and takes time to speak with and meet a wide variety of community organisations. Away from rugby, Richie appreciates the freedom of movement he can achieve through flight – he’s a keen aviator and went solo in a glider at Omarama in 2006.

“I love to fly and I enjoy making the most of life. I certainly appreciate that the loss of movement through Spinal Cord Injuries would be devastating. The quicker a cure is found, the better.”

Other activities which Richie enjoys in his increasingly rare leisure time are fishing and spending time with his friends and family.

Rick Acland remains in good fettle despite reports of his retirement! He has resigned from the Burwood Spinal Unit, but  continues to consult for the Auckland Spinal Rehabilitation Unit.

He remains very enthusiastic about the research being carried out by the SCIRF team in Auckland. He lauds the good work being done by both Units in the rapid retrieval and stabilisation of persons with acutely injured spinal cords in the hope of getting better outcomes. He remains cautious about the potential benefits of stem cell implants but follows the experimental use of electrical stimulation with great interest.

Initially a Trustee, Dr Rick is now our Medical Patron.  

Hon Dame Lowell Goddard served as a Judge of the High Court of New Zealand from 1995 – 2015.

She was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1988.

In her early years Dame Lowell practised at the Independent Bar in Auckland before joining the Crown Law Office in Wellington as Crown Counsel and subsequently as Deputy Solicitor-General.

During 2007 and 2012 she chaired the Independent Police Conduct Authority and from 2010 to 2016 was a member of the United Nations Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT).  In that capacity, Dame Lowell took part in field inspections of conditions of detention in countries such as Cambodia and the Ukraine.  She also acted as the SPT’s focal point in the Asia Pacific Region.

Dame Lowell has been involved in a number of public inquiries in New Zealand and in February 2015 was appointed by the British Government to Chair the UK Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), a role she undertook until August 2016.

She is a Distinguished Alumnus of Auckland University and recipient of the 1990 Commemoration Medal and the NZ Suffrage medal.  In 2014 she was made a DNZM for services to the law.

Dame Lowell is honoured to be a Patron of the CatWalk Trust, and was formerly a member of the Grants Committee of that Trust.

She is also a Vice Patron of the Mistletoe Trust, which provides educational programs for children and is Chair of the Mistletoe Charitable Foundation.


Duane is based in Wellington and is in senior management for the ANZ Banking Group. Married to Shayne and with two children – Jake 18yrs and Lauren 15yrs, Duane was a competitive triathlete until 1991 when a spinal tumour resulted in him becoming and incomplete paraplegic.  Turning his focus to Paralympic sport, Duane was a NZ representative and medallist in the 1996 Paralympic team for swimming and has competed successfully for NZ in many international competitions. He was awarded the ONZM in 1997 for services to sport and in 1998 he was awarded the Order of Merit for services to Paralympics NZ.

A current Governing Board Member of the International Paralympic Committee and a Board Member of Paralympics NZ, Duane has recently has been appointed by IOC President Bach to the Evaluation Commission for the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad. “I am thrilled to be elected to the 2024 Evaluation Commission and I look forward to working to provide the best possible competition environment for all athletes in 2024 in order to experience the feeling of victory and achieving success.”

After being approached by CatWalk Trustee Grant Sharman, we are thrilled that Duane has agreed to become part of the team and bringing such a comprehensive range of business, sporting and personal skills to help CatWalk.

By the age of 15 years, Sarah had gained international attention with a second place at the World Championships, and it’s fair to say Sarah was dominating the sport! In the 2008 season UCI Rounds, Sarah won seven races, came 2nd in one race and didn’t race two races. She was ranked number one in the world by the UCI in 2008, and was one of the favorites to win the BMX women’s event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, in the end she finished 4th. The 2012 London Olympics saw Sarah winning silver medal and cementing her place as New Zealand’s greatest achieving BMX rider. The CatWalk Trust was absolutely delighted when, in 2010, Sarah joined our team as a CatWalk Patron.

“I love & live BMX. I started racing at the age of 10 for some fun and so I wouldn’t be bored watching my brother anymore. Since then I have been to more than 20 countries and lived out of a suitcase for a lot of the last eight years, all with my bike beside me. I look forward to working with CatWalk Trust in developing awareness in spinal cord injuries as the people I have dealt with are an inspiration to us all”

As a boy, Dion Nash lived from Dargaville in the north of the North Island to Dunedin in the south of the South – but everywhere, he managed to indulge his love of sport, a love which would eventually provide him with the greatest honour of all: captaincy of his country. As a child, young Dion enjoyed a mixed sporting parentage.

“Mum’s side are cricketers, Dad’s were boxers and rugby players.” He began playing cricket at 7 when “everyone else was doing it and it filled in time until the rugby season!”

But the summer code quickly became a permanent passion. Since then, it’s ended up taking him all over the world playing for New Zealand, Northern Districts, Otago, Middlesex and Auckland.

“It’s been a fantastic experience to tour countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, the West Indies, Australia, the UK, Zimbabwe. It is always a privilege to represent your country as a sportsman.” He captained New Zealand on more than one occasion and was a regular vice captain for incumbent Stephen Fleming. Dion’s philosophies are simple: “The highs were winning, the lows getting injured! That’s so frustrating.”

Injury was a significant factor for this fine all-rounder – imagine what would he have achieved had injury not played so profound a role? Nash announced his retirement from all cricket in May 2002 having taken 93 test wickets and scored 729 test runs. Away from cricket, Dion enjoys the guitar, reading and movies.

“I agreed to be a patron for CatWalk, after some old cricket friends told me what Catriona was doing. I immediately said yes. My mother has been a paraplegic for over 45 years, and I have grown up with an intimate knowledge of what being a paraplegic means. If there is any chance of finding solutions or medical breakthroughs we should be jumping at the chance to apply it. There’s quote from Shakespeare that fits well with all this: Nothing comes from doing nothing.”

Born and bred in Wairarapa, Aaron Slight went on to become one of New Zealand’s leading motorsport exponents, with an outstanding career as a motorcycle professional. But Slight didn’t have things handed to him easily: his first O.E. in 1986 was with money he saved to try road racing in Australia. He went on to race all over the world, based out of Monaco. His humble beginnings in the sport had kicked off at 12, and although his family initially had no interest in the sport themselves, Aaron says:

“I was extremely persistent and this led to the family ‘giving in’ little by little until eventually they were completely immersed into the motorcycle scene. Since then, they’ve been great.”

After that, Aaron was off and racing – and hasn’t stopped since.

“Asia, Europe, Australasia, the United Kingdom, travel has been a very special part of my career. The kind of learning that this gives you is irreplaceable. It was a huge challenge and being part of the job was more work than play! It was a privilege to have been and experienced so many wonderful cultures and people. The one thing that was always the same was the fans: never ending and always happy to see you at their ‘home’ race.”

Aaron’s highs – “Winning races, competing well, personal satisfaction and enjoyment, the longevity of my career.” His other passions include road cycling – “I am involved in a lot of cycling within Wellington and compete in the Taupo Lake Challenge every year” – music, fitness and healthy living.

“Motorsport is obviously an extreme sport and often unfortunately results in extreme injury. I have seen close competitors suffer serious Spinal Cord Injuries. It would be great if I can help.”

Mark Todd was voted Rider of the 20th Century by the International Equestrian Federation. From small pony club beginnings Mark went on to win two Olympic Games gold medals, (the first rider to win successive individual three-day-event titles for 60 years), and also won two bronzes. He won the prestigious Badminton Horse Trials on three occasions and the Burghley three-day trials five times. Mark also won gold medals as a member of the New Zealand team at the World Championships in 1990 (Stockholm) and 1998 (Rome), the European Championships in 1997 (when it was open to the world), plus 20 or more other international events. In 1995, he rode 2/3 of the gruelling Badminton CCI**** course with only one stirrup after his stirrup leather broke, a feat that impressed even the most experienced riders.

Mark Todd is not only a great eventer, he also competed in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics in the sport of show jumping. Mark has been a keen supporter of The CatWalk SCI Trust since our inaugural fundraiser in 2005 including stepping up and completing the 2010 New York Marathon as part of Team CatWalk.

Since joining the team in 2005, Zara Tindall has proved herself to be an outstanding international patron for CatWalk and has wholeheartedly put her support behind the quest to find a cure for Spinal Cord Injury. Zara, herself an elite standard equestrienne in the United Kingdom, has claimed European and World Championship titles in the sport of Three Day Eventing, having won both titles with Toytown, a horse she trained herself from novice standard to international competition. In December 2006, Zara was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year – a prestigious title voted on by millions of tv viewers who recognised both her talent and her bubbly personality. This represented a unique ‘double’ for her family, Zara’s mother Princess Anne having also won the award in 1971. Zara also made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in the 2007 New Year’s Honours list and has now set her sights on competing at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“It is both a privilege and a pleasure for me to serve as International Patron for The CatWalk Trust. The cause of Spinal Cord Injury is one close to my heart and since being approached by Catriona Williams and her team, I have seen the charity go from strength to strength. CatWalk has set itself some ambitious goals – but knowing the dedication of its supporters, I share their confidence that a cure is not far away. I wish CatWalk ongoing success in its campaign for a cure.”

Patron in Memoria
Sir Brian Lochore
Sept 1940 – August 2019

Our Partners

We are incredibly grateful for the support of these generous businesses who have joined us in our mission to fund spinal cord injury research.

have been operating for over 20 years manufacturing and supplying quality products for the equine and agricultural industries. The team have spent many years perfecting the products from horse walkers, stables and fencing right through to feed and water bins.  All products bearing the “Magnum Built” label meet their guaranteed standard of being rugged, reliable and built to last. “CatWalk was the obvious choice for Magnum when the opportunity arose for an investment in research and discover” says Magnum Representative Michelle Morland.

Barenbrug NZ is a  plant breeding and research company that specialises in pasture. Founded in 1987 and based on a 224ha research station near Darfield, Canterbury, Barenbrug NZ are a member of the Royal Barenbrug Group and employ 60 staff including plant breeders, agronomists, microbiologists and seed production specialists.  Barenbrug NZ produce the CatWalk Equine Pasture Mix and in conjunction with FarmSource they make a donation to spinal cord injury research from every bag sold.

Benchmark Horse Feeds brings an unmatched level of understanding to the horse feed market. Founders Colin Price and Suzanne Hull share the passion for our equine friends with all horse owners.

Colin and Suzanne’s equine interests and experiences are many and varied and include sport horse breeding, thoroughbred breeding and agistment, sale preparation and pleasure riding.

Until it was sold to an investment group in 2018, Colin spent 15 years managing the Mitavite business and supporting a great team of passionate people that were an integral part of the product’s success.

Colin and Suzanne’s families are firmly entrenched in the equestrian community. UK based couple Tim and Jonelle are leading International event riders. Cam is the founder and MD of UK horse feed company Keyflow, Brad is a well-respected horseman, trainer and farrier and Amy competes in top level stock horse classes.

Benchmark Horse Feeds kindly donate 50cents from every bag of Benchmark Perfect Mash sold in New Zealand.

Design, print and signage solutions, Mirage Visual work their magic to present, among other things, our bi-annual magazine ready for printing. Quality work from a family-owned business based in Palmerston North which allows for overnight delivery anywhere in New Zealand.

Strategy – Events – Marketing.

Based in the Wairarapa, the team at “Because” help CatWalk share our message through social media platforms.

The Lindsay Foundation’s mission is to support Kiwi individuals and organisations who aspire to make a positive difference in New Zealand.

With 65 stores located nationwide, Farm Source have partnered with Barenbrug NZ to distribute the CatWalk Equine Pasture Mix.

Farm Source  is a leader in the agricultural industry, developing a comprehensive suite of digital tools and services to support farmers in their day-to-day operations.

A safety vest used by horse riders in both competing and pleasure riding.  These safety vests inflate similar to a vehicle airbag to protect the rider when they fall from the horse.  CatWalk receives a donation from the sale of these vests in New Zealand.

Findex is one of Australasia’s leading providers of integrated financial advisory and accounting services. Boasting a wide and strategically dispersed presence across Australia and New Zealand, Findex is passionate about ensuring clients are provided access to the very best expertise and robust financial solutions that will ultimately see them through their entire business journey, or reach their own personal goals.

Named 2016 Chambers Asia Pacific Law Firm of the Year, we are extremely appreciative of the pro-bono services Bell Gully offer to The CatWalk Trust.  Lawyers of choice for corporate, government and investors, Bell Gully have offices in Auckland and Wellington.

is the complete service and computer solutions company based in Masterton.  David and the team look after all the needs of CatWalk in the technology field making sure we are up to date and running efficiently!

Sims Metal is a business division of Sims Limited. A world leading publicly listed metal recycler, our operations encompass the buying, processing and selling of ferrous and non-ferrous recycled metals.

Sims Metal buys ferrous metal from metal dealers, peddlers, auto wreckers, demolition firms and others who generate obsolete metal, and from manufacturers who generate industrial metal.

Sims take unwanted metal through the CatWalk Hoofin’ It project and make a donation to spinal cord injury based on the value of the metal recovered.