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Latest News 2 February 2022

Shona Brownlee MBE is ready to take on Paralympic Monoski

Shona Brownlee MBE is ready to take on Paralympic Monoski

How Shona Brownlee MBE went from new amputee, to the fastest woman on a mono-ski in just four years.

When Shona Brownlee slid off a ledge during the final exercise of her basic training in 2012, she thought she had simply twisted her ankle and walked it off.

She didn’t realise that the ‘minor’ injury would change her life forever…

“I slid off a ledge into a loading bay and didn’t realise it was bad – I thought I’d just twisted my ankle and would be able to walk it off.

When I got back to base and took my boot off, my leg was black and blue, it was bruised up to my knee and very swollen. I had suffered severe ligament damage but thought I was lucky.

After six years of agony, Shona had her leg amputated in 2018

In actual fact, a break would have been much better. The injury developed complex regional pain syndrome – which is basically when your nerves don’t fire correctly. My foot was useless for six years. It swelled up, and I couldn’t walk on it at all.

Eventually, after all the medical options were exhausted, I decided on amputation,” says Shona.

“I didn’t want to be on crutches or have to deal with that level of pain for the rest of my life, so off it came. Straight after surgery, I felt much better. I was happy, and now I realise how much it had been affecting me. It was definitely the right decision.

I looked down after my operation, and I didn’t have toes any more, which was odd,” she says.

“I woke up once I had had my leg amputated and things were different. I was worried about having a stump – I just couldn’t imagine it – but it’s actually fine. The situation I am in now is much preferable to what I was going through before.”

The 39 year old from Livingston in Scotland then decided to concentrate on what drew her to the military in the first place; playing the French horn and piano.

“I’ve got a degree and a master’s in music, and before joining up I worked as a session musician, taught, and performed – anything that paid the bills! But I wanted some stability, so I joined the Royal Air Force.

 I’d expected training to be horrendous, but I enjoyed it before my accident. Even though I was injured, I’ve stayed in and now play in the bands, take part in concerts and recording sessions, and play in the Officers’ Mess.”

While recovering from her amputation at Headley Court, Shona developed a passion for sit skiing. Starting with an adapted fibreglass monoski which she used to compete in the RAF forces para snowsport team and Interservice level, she has now become the fastest Female para-monoskier in the UK, and the 9th fastest in the world. 

Shona made a great impression in the circuit of pro mono-skiers In her first full season as part of the International para-Snowsports squad. At her world debut in Lilliehammer's world cup, Shona took Britain's’ first ever women’s para alpine sit ski medal, following up with a silver in the sitting super-G and bronze in sitting super combined.

To top off this list of amazing sporting achievements, she was named RAF Sportswoman of the year in 2021 for her contributions to armed forces para Snowsport. It was this achievement which led to her being recognised in the Queens' New Years Honours list. You can find out more about how she was awarded this honour in a recent article.

Now, she is headed to Beijing, due to represent Team GB the winter Paralympics 2022! We'll be wishing her the best when the Beijing Winter Paralympics games begin, on the 13th March this year.

Shona's Achievements saw her named as the RAF Sportswoman of the Year

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