Sunday 20 March 2011

500 Days!

On Tuesday I attended an event in Harlow to mark 500 days to the 2012 Olympic/Paralympic Games. I gave a short speech about my own hopes of making the team and also how the Games can inspire and motivate young people to actively participate in sport. I can't quite believe how quickly the time is going, and went out on Wednesday morning and did 10 miles training on the road to continue working towards my dream. I worked really hard last week and I am happy with the way my training is progressing. No pain no gain as they say.

Yesterday I spent a few hours in Harlow's Harvey Centre promoting ActiveHarlow, a great club that positively promotes sport of all kinds to the young people of the town.

This morning I had the privilege once again to start the Chelmsford Comic Relief Mile in the town park. It was great to see hundreds of people all dressed up to raise money for Comic Relief. Normally I would be in church but always feel this is an event that deserves my support. I was very impressed by an 11 year old boy, Liam, who did 6 miles, and also Olivia, 12, who did 3 miles. Well done to everyone who took part.

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Saturday 12 March 2011

Staff Benda Bilili

Last night I had the great privilege to meet Staff Benda Bilili, a Congolese band from Kinshasa, who were performing at the Union Chapel in London. I met the band backstage and it was great to meet disabled musicians who have overcome polio and homelessness to be on a world stage. I share so much with them, not only being disabled by polio and the effect it has on families but also the realisation of being given the opportunity to achieve your dreams.

Before the gig we saw the film,'Benda Bilili' which charts their rise from the streets of Kinshasa to stardom in Europe. It is a beautiful film full of humour, sadness, inspiration but above all, wonderful music. The packed house gave the film a justly deserved standing ovation. I loved it and would highly recommend it to anyone who is reading this.

I felt very honoured to be asked to say a few words before the band came onstage and despite my nerves I managed to get through my few words before the band arrived to perform.

Watching them on stage was a joyous experience. They performed as a team full of brilliant individuals and the music had everyone present on their feet dancing. I actually did my dancing in my wheelchair, just like them, and had a really great time. I have never seen a vocalist on crutches put so much energy into their singing and dancing, and the effect was electrifying! Watch out for Staff Benda Bilili on their upcoming tour of Europe and be prepared to have a seriously good time. You will also be inspired, amazed and your views about life and disability will be challenged. "STAFF BENDA BILILI!!!!"

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Wednesday 9 March 2011

Busy Busy Busy

I'm back! Phew! My life has been very busy since my last entry. Life can be very difficult. The trials of this life will test our obedience to the truth which has become cheap in todays society.

I spent Christmas in Kenya and it was fantastic to be with my family and friends once again.

In January I had a book launch at the Kenyan High Commission in London which was a great success and I got lots of positive feedback about my book, 'In My Dreams I Dance'.

Also in January I spent a morning in the Gibberd Gallery in Harlow working with pupils from Harlowfields Special School. I really enjoyed interacting with the young people and they produced some wonderful work.

My training in January was tough but as usual it was very rewarding and I really worked hard to get ready for the coming season.

In February I travelled down to Canvey Island to help judge a fantastic event,'Singing Olympiad' - 'Sing Up Canvey Island'. The event had 9 schools competing in a singing competition and some of them had used me as inspiration, something I felt really humbled by but also very pleased. The performances were wonderful and in the end all of the competing schools won gold because they were all equally brilliant. I really enjoyed this event so thanks to the organisers for inviting me, and to the children for entertaining me and the other judges.

I trained really hard throughout February and my coach, Ken Day, really had me sweating as he made me push my limits hard. He's a great coach and I really enjoy working with him.

On Sunday I did my first race of the season, the Silverstone Half Marathon, and I was quite pleased to finish in one hour twenty minutes but I know I can do better. At least it was better than last year, and I was raising funds for disabled women in Burkina Faso so it was a very worthwhile exercise. I'm struggling with my chair and need a new one.

Yesterday was International Womens Day and I was very pleased to have an article I wrote published on the Guardian website.

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