Southend: "There are no limitations, it’s about adaptations."
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“There are no limitations, it’s about adaptations." Inspirational PC Amy Banks talks about battling Moebius Syndrome and swapping pro-wrestling for Essex Police.
Amy, 26, fulfilled a long-held ambition to become a police officer when she completed her training last month [May 2021] and was posted to Southend where she is a member of the local policing team.
She was awarded the prestigious Kirste Snellgrove Award for being an exceptional student but her journey on to the 18-week initial training course was far from conventional.
As a child, doctors feared Amy would never walk unaided but she confounded all expectations to launch a career as a professional wrestler that saw her appear in shows across the UK and compete in America.
Now she is keen to use her experiences to help others and inspire the next generation that anything is possible if you believe in yourself.
Amy missed key development milestones as a child and walked using a frame.
After years of physiotherapy and three eye surgeries to correct a squint, Amy was diagnosed with Moebius Syndrome - a rare neurological condition which can delay the development of motor skills and affect the muscles which control facial expression and eye movement.
“I had a lot of hospital visits during my infancy and I couldn’t smile until I was four. I had walking frames and doctors told my parents I wouldn’t be able to walk on my own, unaided. My mum always tells me that was very hard to hear.
“I was diagnosed with Moebius Syndrome when I was ten. It affects the part of the brain that controls balance and coordination, which I always struggled with at primary school.
“It was hard because I was trying to everything all the other kids were doing but I couldn’t do anything for as long. I had a lot of support, hospital visits and physio, and I started walking before primary school but I got tired very quickly.”
Amy was bullied at secondary school but was determined not to let anything hold her back.
Her love of wrestling saw her join a wrestling school when she was 14. By the age of 15 she was appearing in professional shows and she progressed to performing in front of audiences of up to 1,000 people by the age of 20.
“I went from not being able to run around a school field to being in the wrestling ring with people coming to watch me.
“It was such fun, and when I was 18, I got to wrestle in Los Angeles.”
Amy worked with children at a centre in Rayleigh alongside her wrestling career and then branched out into mixed martial arts. In 2016 she even ran the London Marathon for Children with Cancer UK.
Her thoughts turned back to her childhood ambition of a career in the police after seeing the force’s We Value Difference recruitment campaign on social media.
“I’ve wanted to join the police since I was five but I thought I wouldn’t be accepted. But as time went on, I began to think again.
“All the equality messages I saw on social media helped. There are so many different types of people who work for the police now, so I applied again in January 2020.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Now I’m actually here, the message I want to get out to everyone else who struggles to believe in themselves is that you can do anything you want if you set your mind to it.”
Amy is now spreading the message about the importance of self-belief and looking after your mental health and recently gave an online talk to students at USP College in south Essex.
Amy told the foundation year group:
“There are no limitations, it’s about adaptations. Believe in yourself, work hard and seek help along the way.
“I explained about the difficulties I had growing up, how I didn’t let that stop me and how I hope they don’t let any difficulties they come up against stop them from achieving what they want.”
Reflecting on her Kirste Snellgove Award and looking forward to beginning her career with Essex Police, Amy said:
“I felt completely honoured, grateful and privileged to be granted such a prestigious award. I have made a promise to the late Sergeant Snellgrove that I will always work my hardest to uphold the standards she had set.
“I am so thankful to everyone in Essex Police for everything they have done to support me so far and I am so excited to continue learning and growing within the world of policing.”
Has Amy inspired you?
People from all walks of life are applying to join Essex Police and everyone is welcome if you share our values and want to protect and serve our communities.
If you think you fit the bill and want to join our policing family, visit www.essex.police.uk/fitthebill to see what careers we have to offer.