INSPIRATIONAL stories will told at this year’s Borders Book Festival. And very few will be as gripping as the ones of journalist Melanie Reid and jockey Bob Champion. Our reporter Callum Hodgson spoke to The Times columnist and the Grand National winner about their triumphs over tragedy.

NINE years ago Melanie Reid’s life was turned upside down.

She fell from her horse, breaking her neck and fracturing her lower back.

Paralysed from the top of her chest down, she was to spend a full year in hospital – working towards gaining as much movement in her limbs as possible.

But as a journalist, her first thought was to tell her story.

“I remember being in the hospital, paralysed, waiting to go in for an MRI scan,” she told us.

“It was then that I thought, ‘not many people will know what it is like to be in this position’.

“I got my son to bring in a digital tape recorder and I began to dictate my feelings.

“I felt like a war correspondent at the frontline of my own body.

“I was on morphine, so I wasn’t exactly the full shilling, but I wanted to tell the story.”

It was then Melanie began her ‘Spinal Column’ for The Times Magazine. And, on the back of that, she wrote her book ‘The World I Fell Out Of’ – which was published earlier this year.

She added: “The column allowed me to write about what it was really like. I spent a year in hospital so I saw a lot of things on the spinal ward.

“I saw an amazing cross section of society, from drug addicts who had fallen over, to poor souls who had failed at suicide attempts.

“I hope, by writing this book, I can act as a mainstream voice for people living with a disability.

“We are only ever two seconds away from disaster, and I hope the story puts people’s lives into perspective.

“It certainly did with mine. I no longer nag my children or fall out with my husband over trivial stuff.

“You realise there are so much more important things in life.”

Melanie will be telling her story at the Borders Book Festival this June.

And she is no stranger to the region.

“I used to stay down in Jedburgh and I was a guest at the book festival in Melrose a couple of years ago with Gregor Fisher, of Rab C Nesbitt,” she added.

“I am absolutely honoured to be invited back, however I think it might be a little bit harder for me this time as Gregor made it so easy as he is naturally so funny.

“I am really looking forward to it. I had to pinch myself when I got the invite. I am just a journalist who will be appearing alongside so many incredible writers. I am in awe of them.”

Melanie Reid will appear on June 16 at 6.45pm. Tickets cost £13 and £11.

Also on the bill this year, is another guest who has an inspirational tale to tell.

Jockey Bob Champion won the 1981 Grand National on Aldaniti, while recovering from cancer.

Known as racing’s greatest fairytale, a few years later his triumph was turned into a film.

And now the jockey has released his new book ‘I’m Champion, Call Me Bob’, looking back on his incredible career.

He told us this week: “This autobiography is my second book and I just thought it was the right time for it.

“It has allowed me to talk about everything that has happened since the first one.

“I have been doing a lot of work on my charity the Bob Champion Cancer Trust and a lot of different events over the past few years.

“I am very excited to come to the Borders. The countryside is beautiful, the people are lovely.

“I did one book festival a while back, so I can’t wait to do the one in the Borders.

“We will just have to see how it goes, and hopefully people enjoy it.”

Bob Champion will be at the Borders Book Festival on Friday, June 14, at 4.30pm. Tickets cost £15 and £13.

For tickets to either of the events, visit:, or call the box office on 0131 473 2000.