Gary Clarke is a support worker who has been working for United Response for three years.

He has cerebral palsy and, alongside his day job, actively competes in strongman competitions such as the World’s Strongest Disabled Man. Here, he tells us what keeps him motivated.

I really enjoy my job and feel that I make a valuable contribution to the lives of the people we support with learning disabilities here in Ilminster, Somerset.

What makes my situation unique is the fact that I was born with cerebral palsy. The condition mostly affects my balance, fine motor skills and coordination, so I have walking aids to assist me in getting around. I believe that, when you have a disability, it is so important to think outside the box; you may not do things in a conventional way, but as long as the job is done – and done well – it’s the end result that matters.

I am a very motivated and driven individual who doesn’t let a minor thing like cerebral palsy stand in my way. I apply this self-motivation both in my work and in my strongman exploits.

A strong desire to succeed

I want to showcase the true capabilities of disabled athletes. I spend my time outside work actively training for and competing in strongman competitions and demonstrations such as 18 ton truck pulls, as well as running disability awareness seminars.

For the past four years, I’ve competed in the World’s Strongest Disabled Man contest in Iceland and I’m now organising this year's first ever Britain’s Strongest Disabled Man competition.

Promoting disability in a positive light

I can’t think of a better way to promote disability in a positive light than through my work with United Response, strongman activities and disability awareness seminars. I am a strong believer in the fact that my impairment has made me the successful person I am today. Society often perceives people with disabilities to be limited in what they can achieve, but I am living proof that, with the right amount of motivation and support, anyone – regardless of disability – can achieve their goals and dreams.

That’s not say to say I haven’t faced hardship; during my developmental years, I spent a lot of time in and out of hospital, and I can recall having to learn to walk three times. When times are tough, I draw inspiration from how far I have come and I repeat the mantra I first adopted when strongman training: “no limits and no excuses”. This is true certainly of strongman, but also of all aspects of life.

Gary was talking to Anna Nathanson, design and communications assistant.