It took just a split second for Jane Sowerby's world to turn upside down.

An unlucky fall 13 feet on to concrete left her paralysed from the waist down - and at the age of 28 life as she knew it appeared to be over.

But just four years later she is making her mark in the world of skiing and is determined to qualify for the 2010 Paralympics.

Jane, who grew up in Guiseley, has just been selected for the Development Squad for the British Disabled Ski Team - but amazingly she had no previous experience of the sport before her accident.

And she says she will be eternally grateful to the charity Back-Up which helped her to transform her life through skiing.

Jane's world changed for ever in 2003 when she was visiting friends at the house they were renting in London. She was standing on an external stairway with no railings when she took the one little step that was to have such far-reaching consequences.

She fell backwards down a 13 foot sheer drop and landed on concrete.

"I said to the ambulance people I can't feel my legs - do you think that's a problem?" she remembers.

Her instincts proved correct and the devastating news that she would never walk again was later broken to her by hospital staff.

She remembers: "On April 26 2003, in a split second, my whole world was turned upside down. A simple trip, a fall and an unlucky landing left me with a broken back, and I suddenly found myself completely paralysed from the waist down.

"You never expect something like that to happen to you. But it did. I think I was in a state of shock over the next few weeks, worrying that at 28, my life as I knew it was over. I vaguely remember the doctor telling me I would never walk again, feeling like I was hovering above watching someone else receive the devastating news. "

But despite everything she still believed she would regain the use of her legs.

"I was convinced I was going to get better," she said. "You get weird phantom pains and tingling in your toes."

But the longed for recovery never came and she was left devastated and in shock.

"I spent three months in Stoke Mandeville Spinal Injuries Centre, on the long and difficult road back to independence, with more than a little help from my incredible family and friends," she said.

When she finally left hospital she went home to her mum's house in Guiseley while her London flat was being adapted.

"This is where I spent the first 18 years of my life, a place I have always loved. I'm sure the good old Yorkshire air helped the recovery process," she said.

Adapting to life in a wheelchair proved to be a struggle - with so many things she once took for granted now becoming a challenge.

"It took me a while to realise that you have to focus on the things you can, rather than can't do," she said. " Feeling sorry for yourself gets quite boring! So I looked for something that would help compensate for the things I had lost.

"And then I found skiing, which turned my life around all over again. I went on a trip to the National Sports Centre for the Disabled in Winter Park, Colorado, organised by The Back-Up Trust (to whom I will be eternally grateful!).

"I was instantly hooked. The feeling of leaving your wheelchair behind and hitting the slopes is indescribable. The look on able-bodied skiers' faces as you zoom past them on a black run is hard to beat! Everyone kept commenting on how I never stopped smiling, if only they'd seen me a few weeks earlier!"

She returned again the following year, and then went to Hintertux Glacier to take part in an assessment and selection week for the British Disabled Ski Team.

"After the accident, I had returned to my job that I loved - Music Programming Manager for MTV," she said.

"But it was never the same, everything had changed too much. So after three years, I decided to leave work to concentrate on skiing. I have now been selected to join the Development Squad for the British Disabled Ski Team, my dreams have come true! I plan to go to Canada next season to train, in preparation for the Europa and World Cup races.

"I am under no illusion that without the disability I would never have been given this opportunity. But I have never been so passionate and motivated about anything before, and plan to take it all the way!

"There are some fantastic disabled athletes out there, but with a lot of hard work and dedication I'll be able to compete alongside them. The Winter Paralympics in Vancouver 2010 are scarily close, but to qualify for them would be amazing."

Jane knows she has a lot of people to thank for helping her to rebuild her life. The hospital staff and the former patients who came in to talk to her and to show that life still goes on even after a devastating injury.

She is also incredibly grateful to her family and to the friends who wouldn't allow her to shut herself off from the world.

"I went through a phase of not answering my phone. But my friends were so brilliant. They kept coming round and they kept ringing."

And she is so grateful that she was made aware of the opportunities available through Back-Up, and especially the introduction to skiing.

"It was a complete life changer," she said. "I'm so glad I went on that trip."

The fibre glass seat attached to a single ski enables her to travel independently at exhilarating speeds. With speeds of 65 miles an hour not unknown she herself has reached 35 to 40 miles an hour.

"I think one of the reasons I like it so much is that you really can be as good as an able bodied skier," she said.

Her rapid progress from complete beginner to being picked for the British development squad within three years is quite an achievement against tough competition.

"Actually a lot of the people on the team were really into skiing beforehand - in fact about half of them had their accident as a skiing accident," she said.

With a lack of funding the ski team needs to raise money, and Jane is one of those taking part in the Great North run on September 30 to raise funding.

"Half a marathon using just my arms, I must be mad," she says.

And she is keen for others to see what can be achieved even after a devastating injury.

"You never think it will happen to you, but actually once it does happen to you you have no choice but to carry on. It is not as bad as you might think."

And she says: "Most people I speak to are quite shocked at the amount of things I do. They realise that we are normal people and we do normal things."

And to anyone who has recently had a diagnosis which has turned their world around she says: "Don't give up. Just be hopeful that there are lots of exciting things that you still can do. The main thing is to focus on the things you can do rather than the things you can't do. There will always be things that I can't do - but there is no point dwelling on it," she stressed.

"Since being paralysed I've had a go at parachute jumping, white water rafting, scuba diving, kayaking, water skiing, rowing, hand cycling, sailing, and, of course, skiing. Life only stops if you let it."

If anyone who wants to help the team with its fund-raising can find out more at . Jane can be contacted at