Paralympian turned financial planner Scott Moorhouse on living with purpose

Posted by TEBI on January 16, 2024

Paralympian turned financial planner Scott Moorhouse on living with purpose



Robin writes:

It’s time for the latest in our podcast series Second Lives, in which my co-author JONATHAN HOLLOW looks at the different paths that people choose to take in the second half of their lives and the crucial importance of living with purpose.

As a sports fan, I’ve always been intrigued about how top sportspeople think and train. The latest episode gives a revealing and surprisingly intimate window into a sportsman’s life — with a difference.

SCOTT MOORHOUSE competed at the London 2012 Games as a Paralympian. His life has taken on many challenges and many choices in a short space of time. He has had to deal with the impact of losing a lower leg, juggling university study with the Olympics, and making decisions about what kind of second life he wanted, after sport, in his mid 20s.

Jonathan and I are both very grateful to Scott for his remarkable candour and openness talking about his unusual take on both his first and second life.



TEBI would like to thank the London-based financial planning firm Mulberry Bow for collaborating with us on this series. 
As well as Spotify, you’ll find The TEBI Podcast on all the major podcast platforms, including Apple PodcastsListen NotesPlayerFM and Podbean.



Jonathan Hollow: Scott, this is a unique opportunity for listeners to understand what a thought-through and technical process it is to throw a javelin at a world-class event. Are you able to break it down into the different stages you had to learn … and practice, and fine-tune?

Scott Moorhouse: Yes, javelin is a very technical event – and so whilst most people are probably used to throwing a ball or a cricket ball of some sort, if you try to do that with a javelin, you’ll end up seriously hurting yourself. I think in terms of the actual throw itself, a lot of people think you might throw with your arm, but actually, you don’t (well, you might do when you first start out, but that’s certainly not how you you end up learning to throw far!). The throw comes from the ground upwards, so it comes from the velocity that’s accumulated through running.

The next time you see somebody throw a javelin, you’ll see what I mean. There are three phases to it: there’s the “run up”, the approach, if you like, where people are generally face-on, running with the javelin above their head. They transition into the “crossover”, so that’s when they’re moving sideways. And then the last part is like a mini-jump into a “plant”, and the idea is that you carry the momentum and the velocity that you’ve built up throughout those phases into the throw – so that you “plant” with one side and accelerate with the other side. It all comes from the hip up, through the body, and the javelin just whips off!

Jonathan Hollow: What I’m fascinated by is the fact that you make it sound like it has to be an instinctive process, but presumably in order to succeed, you must be consciously living each step of it, and knowing whether you’ve done it right – and how you can improve it.

Scott Moorhouse: Absolutely. I think athletes are very purpose driven individuals and, they’re very focused on big goals. But within training, you have many goals and many parts of the throwing process that you’re working on. Some technical aspects, you might crack them in a session, some could take you a couple of sessions, other technical aspects you could be working on for an entire season.

Obviously that’s individual to everybody. The ideal performance is one that’s effortless, because if you get it right, if you time all those things correctly, then, when you throw actually, it didn’t feel like you threw.

You can compare that to other things people talk about: if you play golf, when you crack the ball really well, it’s the timing’s been spot on and you haven’t felt like you’ve hit it.

If I’m honest with you, the sad thing is sometimes when you see interviews afterwards and you hear athletes say, “Oh, I hit it that far”, or “I did this and I didn’t even feel like I did it” … because we’ve been conditioned from such a young age to think that effort and tension almost equate into outcome. So the harder we try, and the more that we tense … then that lends itself to a better outcome. But in reality, it’s the other way around. Generally when you when you don’t feel it, and you don’t do those things and you don’t tense and you just let things happen organically … that’s when it tends to work in your favor.

Jonathan Hollow: And while you were striving for that mastery – we’ll talk through the stages of it – obviously a massive highlight would have been London 2012, the Paralympics, this amazing atmosphere in the home city. I’m curious as to whether you were able to feel any of that! Or enjoy any of it? Or whether you were so focused on mastery in your task that it all passed you by.

Scott Moorhouse: I think you’d hear amongst a lot of athletes that have competed at a games at the pinnacle of your sport … generally the Olympics is what you’re aiming for and a lot of athletes, I think it’s fair to say (I’ve heard people say it) would trade an Olympic games or two to have a home games because being at home, in front of a home crowd, it really is extra-special.

So there’s a weight that comes with that. There’s an expectation on yourself. There’s a weight with wanting to do well in front of a home crowd, and it’s something you have to contend with.

I remember getting on the bus to go down to the warmup track and it was probably the biggest feeling of intensity that I’ve ever felt emotionally – you’re nervous, you’re apprehensive, but you’re excited. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. And there’s a lot of emotions all rolled into one. I think if anybody had asked me to talk to them on that bus journey, I probably would have thrown up. That’s the level of intensity that we’re talking about. And I remember Matthew Pinsent, a famous rower, in one of his books, he talks about the Sydney Olympics where he talks about going to the start line. He heard an ambulance and was thinking, “I wish the bus we were on would crash, and the ambulance would be for me.”

Jonathan Hollow: Behind all this, right at the beginning of your life, before you can even remember it (I believe), you lost your lower leg. And you’ve been very open about how that happened. Can you tell the listeners how that happened?

Scott Moorhouse: Absolutely, yes. So I was I was six weeks old. And my real father poured hot water from the kettle and unfortunately, did some pretty significant damage that resulted in me having my leg amputated at one year old.

I think the natural question people, wonder or ask is, well, he surely didn’t do it on purpose? So, unfortunately, sadly, he was convicted and he went to spend some time in prison as a result of it.

So, I guess the flip side of all of that is that it happened to me at a very young age. I don’t remember the incident. I don’t remember life before, because I was so young. So, I’ve always grown up from day one without a left leg because of the amputation, and had to learn how to do everything that way from day one. So I don’t have that comparison, which some people have, who lose limbs later on in life, perhaps by accidents, or in the military. So I’m very fortunate from that perspective.

Jonathan Hollow: You said you worked with military veterans who have obviously had a different experience of loss.

Scott Moorhouse: Yes. I worked for a while with a a firm called Amputees In Action. They do casualty simulation work with the military. It serves a few purposes, really: firstly, the serious aspect of training the military by trying to make it more realistic.

I think previously what would happen is, they choose someone in the squadron platoon that day and they were going to be the injured party. You’d write on their forehead, “Your arm’s blown off”, or “Your leg’s blown off” – and it wouldn’t be very realistic. So the whole point was it would be the first time that some of the soldiers might experience somebody with an amputation and how to manoeuvre those people in a pretty threatening environment … it really shouldn’t be the first time that they had come across it. So we would get made up with special makeup and look like we’d been blown up and we’d get placed in certain scenarios where, we’d get a cue. It would be the big gun going off, and that would be our cue to come out and, scream and shout and pretend that we’d just been injured. And then there’s a whole process that they have to go through to repatriate you. So that was the practical side of it.

But of course, the mental side of it as well was about sitting down the soldiers and just just letting them know what life is like with an amputation. And unfortunately there’s a lot of myths out there that people hear that aren’t necessarily true. And so for some of them, it’s about giving them, I suppose, hope, as much as anything else: in the unlikely event that they do get seriously injured, actually, life after injury can be pretty fulfilling.

Jonathan Hollow: I want to explore language a little bit with you. Paralympian is a very positive word. People would be very proud to say that word. Disabled is a much more problematic word. So I’m just interested in your views on how to get the language right. And which words work best for you to talk about your abilities and any limitations – if you consider you have any limitations?

Scott Moorhouse: Yeah, it’s really interesting. It’s a really interesting area because language changes a lot. And I remember growing up, the language was a particular way; language now has changed. And I suppose that’s not just about “disability”. It’s about a lot of areas of life. And what I often find with this terminology is that it satisfies our human need for simplicity, for categorisation of people. But by putting people in boxes … often, messages get lost within that. So for example, often what happens is that the focus becomes on the disability or the impairment. What gets lost is the athlete and the person behind it that’s driving their successes.

You probably would have heard a lot around the arguments about blades, and “Have they got an advantage or a disadvantage?” – and about Oscar Pistorius. His story is well known, and obviously it’s sad the way that that played out, but he did a lot for disability sport and for the Paralympic movement – in the sense that he was the first guy to compete in the Olympics as well as the Paralympics. But also there was a lot of controversy around the blades that he wore and whether that gave him an advantage.

I think the evidence on that isn’t completely conclusive. There are clearly advantages in some areas, disadvantages in other areas. How you set the scales and weigh one thing against the other, it’s difficult at this point to say. But in all of that, what got lost was the fact that he was a phenomenal athlete. If it was the case that you just put some blades on, off you go and you run very fast, then of course everybody would be doing that. That’s not the case! So often, I find with these terminologies that get used, is that it’s those things that get lost, the essence of the person and his ability.

I’m just an athlete that happens to have a leg missing. I did Land’s End to John O’Groats a couple of years ago, on my own, 900 miles in seven days. I was just “Scott Moorhouse” doing that and I just happened to have a leg missing. That’s how I view it. But yeah, I guess, “Paralympian” … you could settle for that I suppose!

Jonathan Hollow: Let’s talk about your sporting journey and how it began because I believe it began with basketball – and indeed with Jay Blades of The Repair Shop. How did that come about?

Scott Moorhouse: So I used to play lots of football when I was growing up, and basketball was also one of those things I did too. I grew up in Marlow, Henley-on-Thames way. I went to Henley College and I have friends from High Wycombe, and Jay did a lot of work in the community there. He was helping people from disadvantaged backgrounds, people who perhaps needed something positive in their lives to focus on. And basketball was one of those things, (amongst many things) that he did. So he used to be my basketball coach.

Me and some of my friends ended up creating a basketball team called “Street Dreams”. We played prison teams … all sorts of teams. Really, it just shows the power of sport on many levels. I think sport is less about the thing that you’re doing, and more about the lessons that I learned: about bringing people together and overcoming obstacles. And for some people it’s about getting them away from some of the less positive things that are going on in their life. “Street Dreams” was definitely playing that role for a lot of people in the community where I played. It was pretty incredible!

And Jay’s reinvented himself and now is on The Repair Shop, which is great to see.

Jonathan Hollow: And so at that point, sport was a relaxation and a social interaction, but not a profession or an obsession?

Scott Moorhouse: Yes, I think, some people growing up are quite active and are always having sport in their life. And that was certainly me. I think I just never had a particular sport to focus all my time and energy and efforts on.

I got picked up through a talent spotting day, just after the Beijing Olympics in 2008. With London 2012 being a “home games”, there was a lot of money, a lot of investment put into finding talent that had the potential to represent Great Britain in London and win a medal. So I benefited from that. In 2008, I was working in telecommunications, selling network test equipment, which I won’t bore you with the details of! I knew that I wasn’t going to do that for the rest of my life, but I was humming and haahing about going to university or not, and I had decided to get some real life experience. That’s how that came about.

But my boss at the time had heard about a talent-spotting day that was taking place in Mile End. He knew that I loved sport and gave me the day off. Actually, I’m not sure whether he was trying to get me out of the business or not! But he gave me the day off, and I tried my hand at a number of sports, athletics being one of them. There were a few other sports as well, where I was asked to come back for further trials, but athletics was where my passion was. I’d grown up watching athletics.

I went through a selection process, over six months, at Loughborough. I was whittled down to the last ten in the country and then put on a fast-track development program and had an accelerated journey through the sport.

Athletics and in particular, throwing, is such a dynamic sport … in terms of the training that you do. You only throw a javelin twice a week, but you’re sprinting, you’re throwing, you do plyometrics, you’re in the gym lifting, you do all sorts of things that it keep it very refreshing.

Jonathan Hollow: So you followed on from this trial by starting a university degree, but not long after that, you were a full-time professional athlete in preparation for the Paralympics.

Scott Moorhouse: Yeah, it was the result of being picked up through the Talent ID programme. I had actually been missing formal education at that point. So it seemed like a natural pairing for me to go to university to get a degree at the same time as going on the training journey. And so I did two years full time at the University of Essex. I then deferred my last year; then after London, I picked that up part-time, over two years, to finish it off. The university were very good about it.

But in 2010 I did a couple of international competitions – the world under-23s where I came away with a silver medal , and then in January 2011, I was invited to my first senior competition in New Zealand: the World Championships. And that was the turning point really.

Jonathan Hollow: You came fourth in the world.

Scott Moorhouse: Yes that’s right, so I came fourth and I didn’t go with big expectations. And so after I came fourth, I remember I came off the track and the head coach just walked me around and said, “London’s 16, 18 months away, we think you’ve got the ability to get there and perform well, but you need to make some changes”. And I had to make the decision to leave my coach at Manchester, give up my degree or defer my last year, and move to London. I joined a training group at Lee Valley. It was a very high-standard group that I was in, and I was very fortunate at such a young point in my career to have had access to training with those kind of individuals. Many of them had been doing their sports for 10—15 years as athletes. They had started at a much younger age than me.

They knew themselves very well. And a big part of becoming a sports person in any sport is about understanding yourself. That’s not just from what works and what doesn’t work in terms of the training, but also the mental aspect of sport, which is a large part of it. Inevitably there’ll be ups and downs in sports and it’s about how you are able to deal with those things. You learn a lot about yourself as part of that journey.

And that’s why it takes a while to become the best version of yourself as a sportsman, because you make a lot of errors, and a lot of mistakes, and you learn a lot of lessons along the way. As I said to you earlier, the things I learned from sport wasn’t about the medals. It was the lessons that I learned along the way as part of the training. It’s the journey, not the outcome. And that makes a lot of sense when you consider that 99 percent of what you do is the journey to the outcome that you’re aiming for.


Scott Moorhouse, Chartered Financial Planner and former Paralympian


Jonathan Hollow: So let’s keep going with that journey. One of the next points on your journey was being an Olympic torchbearer – and that got you into Hello magazine!

Scott Moorhouse: Yes, I was very fortunate to be one of the 8,000 torchbearers to carry the Olympic torch. And I did it in North London in Haringey. A lot of people don’t realise that the flame actually comes across from the previous host nations. So it was Beijing in this case. It’s supposedly the only open flame allowed on a commercial aircraft. And, as you’d have seen, there’s a tour around the country and considering that there are the best part of 68 million people in the UK, to be one of 8,000 … I was very lucky. It gave me a good taste for what the support was going to be like in the stadium ahead of actually being there. I was extra-lucky because I ended up running two legs of the torch relay. I could see who I was passing the flame on to, but we couldn’t find the person before me. So the organisers said, “Scott, bit of a situation, would you mind doing us a really big favour?” And I had half-figured out what they were going to ask me but I said, “Well, what’s that?” And they said, “The guy before you hasn’t turned up, so would you mind doing two relays?” So obviously that was a tough decision!

The person that didn’t turn up was actually nominated by the Prince’s Trust. Prince Charles (or King Charles as we know him now) and Camilla turned up to see their representative from the Prince’s Trust. And so I remember Charles came over to me. I’d rolled up my trouser legs so you could see my blade. He said, “Oh, did he lose your leg in the army?” And I said, “Oh no, I lost it when I was a child.” (I thought probably a bit awkward to tell him the real reason at that point.) Then Camilla came over with her hand out to shake mine. But, the paparazzi were there and – beggars can’t be choosers! – so I pulled her in and kissed her on the right cheek, and then kissed her on the left cheek. There was a picture captured that made it into Hello magazine the next day, with a grumpy-looking Charles in the background. And a Camilla that definitely looked like she was kissing me back, I might add!

Jonathan Hollow: At the 2012 London Paralympics, you came 7th in the world, which by any non-Olympic standard is gobsmacking. Of course, for that reason you didn’t get a medal, and I’m interested in your reflections on that. I mean: the medals exist to spur people on, so that they give a world beating performance, but it must be very cruel if you are just “very close” to that world beating performance.

Scott Moorhouse: It was. There’s a number of things I think about, in reflecting on that.

I think firstly, where I ended up was exactly where I should have been. My journey in sport up to that point was still relatively young, and, it takes a good 10, 12 … even 15 years to become the best version of yourself within sport. I was still very early into that journey. So in some ways London came a bit too early for me. Life’s all about timing and, it was unfortunate timing in that regard. But in other ways, obviously, very great timing given the fact that I was an athlete at that time.

But a Games is such a big focal point, there’s a lot of emphasis on it. Emotionally, it is a very mixed bag of feelings. My performance was okay. I didn’t put in a bad performance, for me. It was the best that I’d thrown that season. (It wasn’t quite a personal best.) So from that perspective, I did it, and I gave a good account of myself. There was a feeling of relief in some ways because I hadn’t completely messed it up, and the last thing that you want to do is train for such a long period of time and then get there and end up putting in a really rubbish performance … and feel like it has been a wasted opportunity.

So, I didn’t sit in that camp either, because I hadn’t performed in that way. So … there was that sense of relief.

And then there’s quite a burden that comes from having been on such a high for an event like that, as a very purpose driven individual, you’ve been aiming for that for quite a while. Suddenly it is over, so … what happens next? Four years is a long time to think about the next Games. And so inevitably, you start to feel a bit sad, a bit lost, a bit feeling, “Maybe I could have done this better, maybe I could have done that better?”

And that’s the hard thing with sport, There can only be one gold medallist, there can only be three medallists overall. That’s the harsh reality of competing at that level. Sometimes things don’t always go your way.

But as I said, I didn’t feel that that was the whole thing; it was just too early for me. And that’s where I got to – in terms of my acceptance of it – that it’d been a pretty accelerated journey to that point. Even to get there, that had been a pretty big achievement and the hope was that there was so much still for me to work on to, to fulfill my potential and become a better thrower.

The thing that you think about is: where is my potential, is my potential in an area that puts me in contention for a medal?

Jonathan Hollow: But you fairly soon after that you chose a new purpose and a new direction. So tell me about that moment of choice. How old were you at that point?

Scott Moorhouse: I was 24, so again, pretty young for being in London in 2012. What happened after London is, I was national lottery funded, I had sponsors Rio Tinto, Lloyds, TSB, BMW … but I didn’t do enough to maintain the level of funding. My coach, an American coach moved back to the States, as did part of my new training group. So, there was a lot of change at that point. I relocated to Loughborough and trained with a new group under a guy called Chris Watts. Training was going well in 2013. I qualified for the World Championships in Lyon, and then, in the process, I unfortunately got injured.

I remember the competition, at Loughborough University. I was running late due to traffic—I lived in Leicester at this point. I arrived, my competitors had just finished warming up, and I had to rush a warm-up, not getting much of one. I went out, hit my first throw, felt something in my arm, it was quite sore. I threw a personal best – but I had partially torn the ligament in my arm. Fortunately, it was a minor tear, not a major one. Frustratingly, I could do everything in training – but throw a javelin! As soon as I put a javelin in my hand, the stretch it caused from throwing was so painful.

I wasn’t on funding at that point, and the harsh reality of elite sport set in. I asked if they’d put me back together if I blew my arm up competing? The answer was no.

I realised my heart wasn’t in it. It was an opportunity to transition into something else. That’s where financial services come in. So, I’m still peaking in life! That’s what I think about it! There’s more to life than throwing a javelin, and that realisation brought me to Mulberry Bow.

I’ve done a business management degree, so there was some relevance there. It’s funny how things work out sometimes. Simon Bullock and I got on well, and I was impressed by his vision for Mulberry Bow. One day, we were having a conversation down the pub, where all good conversations happen. He mentioned they were looking for someone, and he thought I’d be good for the role. We explored it further, and that’s what I did.

It was good timing because I was thinking about the next step in my career. What I was doing at Seven Investment Management (on the discretionary investment side) was becoming a smaller part of the industry. Arguably, it didn’t have the longevity that financial planning does. I was intrigued by financial planning. There are more tools in the kit bag to help clients.

Unfortunately, with investing, nobody’s figured out how to predict the future! There are very bright individuals with seductive, well-thought-out ideas, but they can still be wrong. I liked that with financial planning, part of it is the investment strategy, but a big part is things within your control that can be done. They’ll lead to good outcomes – and you can quantify some of those things.


Scott Moorhouse, Chartered Financial Planner and former Paralympian


Jonathan Hollow: What do you think you bring of your own Paralympian experiences, your own life lessons into those planning conversations with clients?

Scott Moorhouse: I think the biggest thing is, it’s just about being deliberate, and I think a lot of people go throughout the course of life without much conscious thought around big life decisions. Some people aren’t that way minded, and that’s fair enough. I suppose that’s why they engage the services of people like ourselves, the financial planners. We’re paid to think about these things and help guide people.

Financial planning is about marrying people’s money with what’s important to them. All too often, we get caught in this conveyor belt of just more accumulation, trying to make more, for more stuff. I think a lot of it is obviously about having, without being too clichéd, a plan.

In sport, you very much have a plan. There’s a science to it, but there’s also an art to it. That’s very much the same with financial planning. It’s good to have a direction, and to have some thought about where we’re trying to aim for and what’s the money for? What’s it all about? Of course, be flexible enough because inevitably, things are going to change. People’s hopes, dreams, and fears are going to change, and unexpected events are going to come around.

So, it’s also about being flexible enough not to get sidetracked by those things.

Jonathan Hollow: Scott, thank you very much. It’s been a pleasure to talk to you, and thank you for telling your story.

Scott Moorhouse: No, Jonathan … thank you for having me on, and thank you for giving me the platform to tell my story. Everybody has a story, and I appreciate you allowing me to tell mine.​



Jonathan worked for the UK Government’s Money and Pensions Service and is a writer and commentator on consumer education and protection. He is the co-author, with Robin Powell, of the award-winning book How to Fund the Life You Want, which is published by Bloomsbury.



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JOHN TREHARNE on how his sports career opened the door to a life of entrepreneurship as founder of two successful businesses, including Gym Group

HÉCTOR GARCÍA on the concept of ikigai, the importance of community support, and the wisdom from Japan that has fed into his new book

LISA GRANIK MW on a new life in wine, looking back on law, Stalin and a long relationship with the Caucasian country of Georgia

BRIAN PORTNOY on how to master the “evolutionary two-step” that keeps us fearing (and hoping) throughout our money lives

ALEX DAVIS on her journey from company director to Latin scholar

ANDREW HALLAM on money, meaning, giving and community



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