Paula was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire. She is one of six children and has been a member of Trafford Athletics Club since the age of 11. The sprinter made rapid progress as an athlete in 1986, improving her PB from 11.67 to 11.25 winning both the AAA’s and UK National 100m titles. In the Commonwealth Game in Edinburgh that same year, she won a silver medal in the 100m, just one one hundredths of a second behind the winner Heather Oaks. She then teamed up with Heather, Kathy Cook and Joan Baptiste to win Gold in the 4 x 100m metres really team. Later that year, she placed seventh in the 100m Final in the European Championships.
At the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul she reached the 200m semi-finals, and placed fourth in the 60m final at the European Indoor Championships before going on to finish second in both the 100m, and 200m at the 1989 European Cup in Gateshead. Also in 1989 she won her fourth AAA’s 100m title. Between August 1986 and January 2990, Paula was unbeaten by any British woman.
In January 1990, she won silver in the relay of the Commonwealth Games in Auckland and in the Summer won really bronze at the European Champs in Split. She competed at the 1991 and 1993 World Championships with 1992 being the year she missed due to pregnancy.
Paula reached her peak in 1994 achieving her lifetime best winning bronze in the Commonwealth Games with 11.23 seconds after run-in 11.15 in the semi-finals. In the 200m although she narrowly missed out on a medal, she ran a PB of 22.69 seconds. These times would remain the best sprint times by a British woman for a decade.
As well as being a mother of 2 boys, she turned her focus to coaching between 1997 and 2008 and began working for UK Athletics in 2011 an moved to the role as Talent Manager in 2004. In 2009, she was appointed Paralympic Transition Manager and then after London 2012 she was promoted to the position of Head Coach, the first female head coach appointed by UKA.