Mari Akhurst

Mari Durward-Akhurst
  • Name: Mari Akhurst
  • Disability: Cerebral Palsy
  • Bader Grant awarded on: 01/02/2017
  • Bader Grant awarded for: Mari’s grant helps to support her with regular strength and conditioning sessions which will aid her development as an elite athlete.


Mari Akhurst, is a hugely promising Grade 1 Para Dressage Rider, whose ambition is to represent Team GB at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

Mari has cerebral palsy that affects all four limbs and has left her weaker down her left side. As a result of her CP, her co-ordination, balance and muscle tone are all affected. She currently competes in Para Dressage at National and International level.

Riding changed my life;

Mari explains “I used to get bullied a lot when I was younger as I was different to other children but I discovered that I was extremely good at riding and this has led to me competing Nationally and Internationally at Para Dressage. Horses are my legs and together we excel.”

Mari competes two horses Sky O’Hara (who is kindly on loan from Glesni Owen) and Lebensfreude.

She was originally diagnosed with cerebral palsy, hypermobility and lax ligaments. Due to the deterioration in her condition over the last few years she has been under investigation and the latest diagnosis is progressive spastic ataxia.

The Douglas Bader Foundation (DBF) has made a massive difference to my life and sport as their grant has allowed me to have monthly strength and conditioning sessions at Performance Hertfordshire which has meant I have been able to keep my core as strong as possible so that I am still able to ride. It has also helped in trying to slow down my deterioration. Everyone comments on how much straighter I look in the saddle and judges have commented on how strong my core must be to keep upright. I cannot thank DBF enough.


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