Sunday 27 November 2011

Harlow Athletics Club.

I had a good push yesterday and did a solid 10k. Part of my training was being filmed as part of a project which I'll write about at a later date. The hill sprints were tough but I was pleased with the way I did them.

It's interesting because I seem to be in demand these days, especially socially, but I'm having to turn invitations down because of commitments elsewhere. For example, last night I had to let down two friends because I had to go and present awards at Harlow Athletics Club.

The club has been going for many years and has produced both Olympians and Paralympians. This was their annual awards ceremony where trophies and certificates were awarded to the athletes. I was immensely impressed by one of the coaches called Ted Cole who has been keeping the club records for more than 35 years! That's what I call dedication! The night went very well and the winners were beaming at receiving their awards. I don't know how many hands I shook. The youngsters who won awards can hopefully look back on the evening as the start of hopefully long and successful careers, and the coaches who are supporting them can also feel proud that they had a positive influence.I'll never forget Terry Martin and Alan Stevens, two men who really pushed me to success. Anyway, it was a great evening and I was very proud to be there.

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Thursday 24 November 2011

Right to Play.

Last week ended with a filming session for 'Right to Play'. This is a charity I represent as an Athlete Ambassador. I support them because they use sport and play for development to improve the lives of children in the most disadvantaged areas of the world. You can learn more about this great charity by visiting their website;

Apart from doing the filming I had a meeting in London with Everetta Days. She is a former model from the USA and is writing a global modelling book she hopes will change how people perceive beauty. We had a giggle together. She has a lovely bubbly personality and it was a pleasure to spend time with her. I look forward to reading her book when it's published, and I'm also looking forward to meeting her again in America.

Training has been going really well, despite the poor weather we have been having. If it gets too bad I train indoors, otherwise it's out on the road and track. Yesterday I returned from London and was feeling good so I went on the track and met my coach. We knew what we were going to do but for some reason things didn't go to plan and just fell apart. My gloves didn't feel right, my push rims were slipping and even my warm up didn't feel right. It all made me feel a bit low and as I drove home I tried to analyse what had gone wrong. However, I couldn't find an answer and just put it down as one of those things that happens to every athlete now and again. Today is another day and we'll see what happens.

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Thursday 17 November 2011

AbleChild Africa

Training has been going well in spite of me having a cold. I have always been told it's good to sweat a cold out and I felt much better after pushing a very gentle 5k. From the middle of this year I have learnt how to spend my own life in my own way. Sometimes it feels like going back to Nursery school but it's getting better all the time. Remembering what we love is the beginning of a positive change in our lives so I'm prepared to learn anew and hopefully become a better person.

on Tuesday 8th November I was invited to speak at a fundraising dinner in the Inner Temple in London. The banqueting hall was magnificent and full of history. I felt very honoured to be there. The dinner was to raise much needed funds for AbleChild Africa, a charity that is very close to my heart because of the wonderful work they do in Africa. It's hard to believe but ;

1 in 10 children in Africa are living with a disability; this equals a staggering 52 million children!

A staggering 98% of disabled children in Africa do not attend school!

More than 80% of disabled people are living below the poverty line!

I would easily have been amongst those educational statistics if it weren't for the support of my parents, and the Salvation Army who ran the primary school I went to, Joyland. I shall never forget the encouragement and support I got from Major Chamberlain and Major Cotten. The evening was a great success.

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Wednesday 9 November 2011

Educating Essex 2

On Monday morning I was invited to speak to a group of media students at Harlow College. I was the first guest speaker to use the new lecture theatre and I was a bit nervous. I had prepared a powerpoint presentation and used a piece of music by Des'ree, 'You Gotta Be', as an introduction. There were about eighty students present as well as a couple of lecturers. I spoke about my life but more importantly about the way education can empower people. I had a good response and the students asked a lot of interesting questions. I spoke to quite a few students afterwards and they seemed to think it had been a positive experience so it was well worth taking the time to do.

Next it was off to Harlow Leisurezone for a photocall arranged by Harlow Council. It was to accompany the news that Harlow has been chosen for the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay Route. This is great news for everyone in the town and will give people the opportunity to feel closer to the Games and be a part of history. I'll be there on July 7th to see the torch passing through. I'm really looking forward to it!

In the evening it was back to the track in the cold drizzly weather but as usual Ken soon had me sweating, sniffling, and working hard. By the end of an hour and forty five minutes I felt so proud because the session had been completed. Then it was home to cook dinner.

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Sunday 6 November 2011

Educating Essex.

Training has been going on well, despite the cold and gloomy weather. I'm really grateful to my coach, Ken Day, for turning out to help me 6 days a week. He is so dedicated and I appreciate him. In these increasingly cold evenings I have been finding that my toes and fingertips have been freezing during training. However, I have discovered some excellent inner gloves made by Karrimor so I have solved the fingertip problem. Working on the toe problem.

Yesterday I went to Harlow Leisurezone to do my strength and conditioning work and it was great to work with John Campbell again. John is one of those instructors who pushes you to your limits, which is exactly what I need. Put it this way, after a session with John you know you have worked!

I have been watching 'Educating Essex' on Channel 4 with great interest because Passmores School is literally just around the corner from my house. A few years ago I was invited to the school to present awards to the children and I found everyone involved really friendly. There was a real family atmosphere to the school that I liked and the Head, Mr Goddard, went out of his way to support me. As a trained teacher myself, albeit one who has only ever taught in Kenya, I found the behaviour of the staff and students very interesting to observe. In Kenya there was nothing like detentions and counselling when a student makes a mistake, it was just a matter of how many strokes of the cane were dished out! In Kenya everyone believes in; 'Spare the rod, spoil the child'. If you were thrashed at school you would be thrashed again at home by your parents for disrespecting the teacher. How different things are here. I really admired the way Mr Drew dealt with the students. To me he is an excellent teacher who really cares about the students he teaches and there didn't seem to be any problem he couldn't deal with. He was just so calm and never seemed to lose his temper even when provoked. Mr Goddard, the Head, was equally impressive in the way he went about his work and who could imagine seeing such a powerful man crying on national television. I really admired that because he showed a very positive side of his character in that incident and he should be seen as a role model by other professional people. The students who featured in the series, in spite of all their problems, will look back at themselves and it will make them better people.

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