Friday 21 September 2012

First Visit to Cornwall.

After the excitement, and exhaustion, of the London 2012 Paralympic Games it was good to have a little time off to recover and rest. However, on Tuesday I set off on a long journey to Cornwall. I had been invited to speak at the 'Methodist Women in Britain - Autumn District Day held in Launceston. It was also a very special day for Mary Tucker who was to be inducted as the District President.

I had to travel by train via Paddington, then train again to Bristol Parkway where I was met by Mary's daughter Avril who drove me down to Launceston. Avril was lovely and made the long journey fly by, pointing out sights along the way. We arrived safely at Tyne Wells House and I was given some gorgeous saffron buns and tea, both of which I enjoyed immensely  especially the buns which were delicious. Launceston is a beautiful town, very peaceful. As Mary prepared dinner, I chatted with Mary's husband Bernard and with Avril. I learned that Bernard had also contracted polio as a youngster and we swapped stories of our experiences. He told me he had a Meccano set that had to be scrubbed before his friends would play with it and eventually the paint wore off. That reminded me of my own experiences as a little girl trying to play dolls with my friends After dinner I visited Launceston Methodist Church to see where I would be speaking in the morning, and also to try out the brand new powerpoint presentation I had just completed the night before. The church was beautifully laid out and since the theme was taken from my book, "In My Dreams I Dance", they had a bunch of beautiful flowers that reflected  the colours used on my cover page and on this was a pair of silver dancing shoes...... I was emotional.  I was exhausted by the travelling and so after I was settled into my accommodation at Trethorn Golf Club I had an early night.

As usual I was feeling very nervous about speaking, but once I was up on the stage and saw the audience of women,(and a few men), I soon got into my stride. The audience oozed wisdom, love,passion and dedication for what they believe in..... there was no doubt they had given and not counted the cost of their time to come and celebrate with Mary. My contribution was well received, which was a relief, and we had lunch.

In the afternoon I gave a small talk about 'Jesus and Disability' and we had a very lively discussion on the subject. Mr. Proctor also introduced us to the Jaipur Limb Charity, the project Mary will support during her term of office.

In the evening there was a social event to raise funds for the Jaipur Limb Charity. It was sold out and to me it seemed like everyone was related to each other in some way. Again, this reminded me of life back in Kenya. There was a friendly atmosphere and the food was delicious. I spoke again, and Mr Proctor told of how lives had been transformed by the project. It is a very worthy cause and well worth supporting for the great work it does. We were entertained by the Young Farmers Choir, and the thing that gave me the most pleasure was hearing the story told by Bernard and Mary's son, who was MC for the evening, about when his father and himself had to visit a farm. They had to put on rubber boots so they didn't carry any infections onto the farm. Bernard has an artificial leg and the boot was a very tight fit. After the inspection was finished Bernard was struggling to remove the boot on his artificial leg, and the farmer, noticing this, offered to help. As he struggled to remove the boot the whole leg came off in his hands! The farmer went white and almost fainted! The son said that to this day he doesn't know if his father deliberately pressed the release pins, and Bernard won't say. I haven't laughed so much for a long time. For me it is a great example of how we people who have a disability can laugh at ourselves. It was a lovely evening and I really enjoyed the company.

In the morning, after a lovely breakfast Avril drove me back to Bristol to make my journey home.

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Friday 14 September 2012

Golden Summer

Well, sadly the great summer of sport has finally come to an end and I for one am finding it difficult to get back to normal. The Olympics were great and I especially enjoyed watching the successes of Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis and Usain Bolt. However, for me it was the Paralympic Games that really thrilled and excited me. I was disappointed not to have made to the start line myself but as they say, one door closes and another opens. You know, Paralympians have an X Factor that the Olympic athletes can't even imagine - the X Factor that makes you go the extra mile. Athletes with a disability strongly affirm that its not what has been taken away from them that counts, its what you can achieve with what you have left that makes the difference. I marvelled at swimmers who had lost limbs flying through the water, and at the ferocity of wheelchair rugby. Those people are TOUGH! And who in the Olympics could match the incredible achievements of David Weir, winning FOUR Gold medals in the 800, 1500, 5,000, and the marathon, all in the space of less than a week! Absolutely incredible, and a fantastic role model for young people everywhere.

I enjoyed going into the Paralympic Village every day and meeting up with old friends from around the world, and enjoying some fantastic food. I also enjoyed watching the Games in the stadium, and thanks to my friends from Congo I had full access to the V.I.P lounge, which made me feel very special.

I also had the great privilege to be part of the team at ITV London, and had my chance to comment on the talking points of the day live on television. The view from the studio was magnificent and it was exciting to see the vast crowds of people flocking into the venues each day. I really enjoyed the experience.

Watching Dedaline race in the 100m was an emotional experience for me, and even though she finished last she achieved a lot for the millions of other disabled women in Africa who can aspire to being Paralympians themselves. Mind you, there is an awful lot to do to get more people from developing countries involved in sport because a lot of the equipment needed is so expensive, not to mention the cost of transport and training facilities. Anyway, I think London 2012 has set a very high standard and I really hope Brazil can continue the progress we have made.

The Closing Ceremony was magical and I really enjoyed it, though I did have to leave early because it was so noisy, maybe a sign my raving days are almost over! The Gamesmakers were absolutely incredible. I must personally thank David Prophet, the very patient man who drove me to the Paralympic site each day and brought me back at night. He deserves a Gold medal for all the time, effort, and enthusiasm he put in voluntarily. Thank you David.

Thank you also to the IPC for my certificate and silver medal marking my participation in London 2012.

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Saturday 1 September 2012

'The Prize' review