Category Archives: Blog

SDN’s is seeking members to contribute to the blog. If you have a burning issue or you want to share something with other members please contact us.

Wheel’s Wonderings contributor is written Ian Pugh a disabled teenager living In Shrewsbury.

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Kelda writes- So it’s no world championships for me…missed out by 0.4 of a second but..

It’s taken a couple of weeks for me to be able to write this blog….things didn’t go as I’d hoped at the selections for the World Championships, and if I’m honest, I didn’t really know what to write. I think I’ve gone through every emotion there is since the regatta, and if I’d tried to put my thoughts down in writing they would have seemed like the ramblings of one deranged female!!!

So I missed out on selection by 0.4 of a second. That still seems pretty harsh now!! I paddled well, but the bottom line is I just got beaten on the line. No excuses, that’s just how it is!

I’m not going to lie, I was devastated. I know I’ve still got so much improvement to come and the impact of the amount of training I missed as a result of my stress fracture was evident….and that was the biggest frustration, I know I’m a better athlete than how I performed at the selections, but the rules are it’s the first 2 boats over the line, and I finished 3rd– so that’s it, no World Championships for me.

At first I just wanted to quit….all I was saying to myself was “you’re just not good enough” Why did I ever think I could make it to Rio anyway” “You’ve just been dreaming, why did I sacrifice so much to try and make this happen” Etc. etc.

However, after a couple of days, I started to get my feisty head back on….in my opinion the result at the regatta was the wrong result, so do you know what, I’m going to work harder than ever, and prove to them that I should’ve gone, and that I’m 100% the boat that should go to Rio!

I needed to reset everything, my goals, my aims….and how I achieved them!

I then spent the next week pestering the coaches to death to find out exactly what I needed to do to get back on track and put right the result from the selections.

So now I’ve got the bit firmly back between my teeth! There’s 11 months to go until the selection regatta for the Paralympics….and I can make this happen! One of my biggest challenges is that my funding may now be cut…..and without funding, it become impossible to train full time. If I’m not training full time, making the gains I need to make to be that boat that goes to Rio becomes incredibly difficult.

So, time to get off my backside and deliver! I’ve set myself the challenge of raising £15,000, which is the amount I need to be able to commit to training full time for the next 11 months. I know it seems like a lot of money, but, I’m going to break it down into bite sized chunks….if I can get £500 here and £1,000 there from sponsorship and support, then suddenly £15,000 becomes an achievable amount!

I keep training full time, and I work harder than ever!! I have to hit 105% of the Gold Medal Time by September if I’m to stay on the Rio pathway….this means I have to go sub 54 seconds within the next 6 weeks. My PB at the minute is 56 secs. It’s going to be a challenge, but I fully believe I am capable of hitting this time. I feel a bit like a woman possessed on the water at the minute…every stroke I take is proving a point! But slowly, I’m chipping away at the time I need to hit. There’s huge gains to be made now I’m at last back into a block of solid training. I’m focused, I’m determined…and more than anything I’m a little bit angry – it’s amazing what motivation a bit of anger can give you!!!

I’ve also got to really work hard in the gym. In order to hit the time I need to hit on the water, I’ve got to get more powerful, and that’s going to come from some serious work in the gym. I’m lifting more weight already….and that bench press better look out – I’m a woman on a mission!!!

It’s been a difficult couple of weeks, at times all I wanted to do was get in my car and come home. But I didn’t, I want to be a better athlete than that……dealing with knocks and setbacks is part of sport, so if I can’t handle it, I should choose another career! I want to be the kind of athlete that uses this to motivate me and to drive me forwards. Rio is still an absolute reality, and it’s up to me to get my head down, work hard, and make it happen.

How many of the top athletes have had to fight to get to where they want to be, that’s what makes them good. I feel more committed, focused and 100% determined to make it to Rio than ever, so do you know what, in the long term, maybe this has been a good thing.

I’m proud of how I’ve handled everything. One thing this has taught me is that success isn’t always defined by the result. It’s about being the best you can be, being the person you want to be, being respectful to others….and enjoying the journey along the way. If you can do all of that you’ve achieved success, whatever the outcome.

 SDN says-Help for Kelda, can anyone help Kelda get the financial support she needs? If anyone has any ideas of contacts that Kelda could approach for sponsorship please contact Kelda by email at or call her on 07977 574785










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Shared Spaces-What’s it all about? And what else should we be wary of?

Shared Spaces-”What’s it all about?” asks our Deputy Chairperson but Ruby also raises awareness of other issues now that Summer has arrived!

This Wednesday (15th July) Oswestry is holding a very important day. Laura Lane Clarke asks people to go to Oswestry Memorial Hall between 10.30 am to 4.30 pm. She says “Come along and learn more about shared space; see examples of towns with shared space; discuss how shared space could affect your town; try a blindfold walk around Festival Square; learn more about what a guide dog does”

Many of you follow us on twitter @shropdisnetwork so will have seen @Seaofchangefilm asking that we share this blog with you with you. Not that long ago on our face book page we shared this film with our followers

It shows huge problems #sharedspace is causing in UK.

This brings me (Ruby) on to highlight to our readers another difficulty faced by those with visual impairment & something that could cause anyone some serious damage.

This year I have been talking about our work to Sight Loss Groups around the county. All have made me welcome & I have met some lovely people who are all very interested in our work, but it has also made me think & be even more aware! I feel I have some experience of visual impairment as my one sister was born with a serious eye condition. I was just 5 when she had to leave home to go to a special school for partially sighted children in Lancashire. I have very fond memories of my Grandfather who was blinded in one eye at the age of 5, a result of a school accident. Also my Great Grandfather had an accident while working on his farm which resulted in him being blinded in one eye & I had an uncle who was born no vision. For these reasons my parents were always concerned that we looked after our “eyes” even to the point where we as children were not allowed to play ball games just in case we had an accident! Little did they know, we disappeared out of view to play just as children should! My late Mother lost vision in one eye from Glaucoma & Macular Degeneration so really I feel I have some awareness. There is always something to learn & become aware of & to make us think & that is why our work in talking to groups & organisations is so valuable.

One person asked “Is any action & by whom, taken against those who fail to keep hedges in check as this time of year, branches overhanging the pavements. I don’t see them until it’s too late, so many times I have been scratched, poked in the eye. I just wish people would think & keep hedges in trim”

So as Summer is here & hedges & trees are growing quickly, as property owners & landlords can we please consider people out walking, those who use mobility scooters, have guide dogs, or use a wheelchair- whether alone or with assistance. It may be without realising it we are causing obstructions, meaning pavements become narrowed by overhanging hedges (even pavement parking can create issues) as well as being a nuisance they can cause injury. Likewise after a down pour it is not nice to be brushing past hedges & get a further soaking!

“Often it is the little things that create the biggest challenges” so as we enjoy Summer, lets also try to be a little more aware of obstacles we may create but not realise.









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What is behind us-Shropshire Disability Network & what have we been up to recently?

People sometimes ask-what is SDN about? What do you actually do? Why do you need funding? Our website & newsletter can easily be seen & members get invites to meetings but what may not be so obvious is-the signposting work we do, the talks/presentations & events we attend, organising of our meetings & events & much more.

Here our Deputy Chairperson, Ruby gives you a bit of incite into our work.

“We have a Management Committee of 10 who meet monthly to ensure that as a charity & volunteer run organisation we are delivering to the best of our ability. That includes planning our quarterly meetings, reporting back if any of us have attended as SDN representatives at meetings, events ie Patient Participation Group Awareness Day at Mount Pleasant Medical Practice, Pan Disability Forum, Shropshire Inclusively Fit Project, Safe Place Shropshire Committee. There are many events, meetings that we are involved with enabling us to reach many of you.”

She said “We also need to discuss funding, where it is coming from & for what ie production of our 6 weekly newsletter-”YourVoice” needs producing, editing, proof reading. We need 150 copies to post out & use for publicity. The demand for this is increasing & legally we can not allowed to make a charge for something available on-line but not accessible to everyone for whatever reason.

Then we need membership leaflets, publicity leaflets so that we can use them on our stands, have them in libraries, GP practices, public places & many places of interest. Apart from envelopes, postage etc to post out “YourVoice” we need stationery (laminating pouches, paper, consumables for our laser printer, stamps) so that we can print items for meetings as well as awareness days. Not everyone has IT access so will respond to these enquiries via the post. We have website costs, maintenance & upgrades & as volunteers we need to re-imburse them for “out of pocket” expenses. ie an event may involve a cost ie stand, entry fee & a cost involved in attending ie taxi, bus/train fare. SDN needs equipment to purchase & maintain ie projector, sound system, information stands & promotional materials. The shopping list is ongoing but enables us to be the “voice” & place for information on disability across geographical county of Shropshire. We must have insurance etc”

As Ruby said at our last Members Meeting in June, “We steer a very tight ship & use all monies raised for the benefit of our members so we ask that you support us at our fund-raisers. By supporting us, you help us deliver & reach many people”

Behind the Management Committee are several volunteers, enabling much of our work to happen. They help at Princess Royal Awareness Days, Supermarket Collections, others ensure the website & social media sites are updated, write blogs, deliver our leaflets to various places etc . We wish to thank all our volunteers for all they do. Reading this, if you wish to get involved call 07780 852 229 or email  

One piece of work we recently engaged in was with the RJ & AH Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital. They contacted us to see if we would engage in the roll out of a National Scheme re Learning Disabilities & Carers -they want to adapt it to meet the needs of all types of disability so we were pleased to be approachedRuby said “It was valuable to us that we were engaged in discussions, looking at the kit & bantering adaptations. One of SDN volunteers Joe Evans is now giving advice to Maryse MacKenzie who leads on this project re sensory impairment & the best way that they can engage with people. We have also linked Maryse to various organisations who will be interested as everyone needs to know about it. RJ & AH Orthopaedic Hospital will have copies of YourVoice available for patients & visitors. Pam, one of our Management Team attended the launch of the project recently. 

This is an ongoing piece of work & we are pleased to be working with RJ & AH Orthopaedic Hospital on this. 

Maryse has alerted us to this blog which we think will be of interest to our readers.

Transforming care for people with learning disabilities progress report published 










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Kelda writes- Time to put my money where my mouth is!

Next Saturday, the 4thJuly, it’s the selection regatta for the World Championships. We’ve been talking about it for so long, it seems madness that it’s actually here! The reality is that I have to finish in the first 2 boats in my category if I’m to be selected. There’s no excuses, nothing to hide behind….either I’ll be good enough, or I won’t!

I’m determined it’s going to be the former!…..However, I’m well aware that there’s no guarantees! I’ve been training hard and things have been going well. I got a new PB this week, and for the first time ever I’ve actually managed to do pull ups in the gym without an assistance band! Now that’s got to be a good sign!!:-) I’ve been feeling really powerful on the water too, there’s still a lot more to come, which I find a really exciting prospect, but in the meantime the priority is delivering next weekend!

One of my good friends gave me a card this week in which she’d written “You were born to do this”…..and that’s just how I feel! So, it’s time to put my money where my mouth is and prove exactly that to myself, my coach, and all the amazing people who have given me so much support.

I’m a little bit scared, but I reckon that’s a good thing, because it proves to me just how much I want this and just how determined I am to make it happen!

If you never take the risk, you’ll never know how far you can go!!





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Kelda writes- World Championships are just weeks away!

What a difference a week can make! I started the week with a completely different attitude…and boy did it show! It was like looking at everything through a different set of eyes, and it proved to work much better for me! It just shows…how you choose to approach things can have a huge impact on your performance.

I’ve worked really hard, but I’ve got my head down and tried to chill out about the fact that the selections for the World Championships are 3 weeks away! The one thing I’ve learnt is that I can’t control the eventual outcome of those selections, but what I can do is train hard, prepare, eat well and sleep well. If I do all of that, then I’ve given myself the best chance of delivering the best performance I possibly can on the 4th July-the outcome will then have to take care of itself!

That doesn’t mean I’m not going to be giving it everything! Over the next 3 weeks I plan to focus solely on training, other things will just have to wait. I feel a little bit guilty saying that, but sometimes you just have to prioritise.

Someone once said to me to imagine that I’m in a boat paddling down the Nile. A pack of crocodiles start to attack the boat….if you try and fight off all the crocs at the same time, they’ll overpower you and you’ll get eaten. But, if you fight off the croc nearest to your boat first, you stand a much better chance of making it to the other side!

I know exactly which crocodile I’m going to be focusing on up to the 4thJuly!

SDN’s message to Kelda is “We are all behind you Kelda, go Kelda, you can do it, we know you can & all our membership is behind you.”






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Tracy writes -How & when I began my International duty & where my journey takes me……

I began my International duty at a stadium in Warrington in 1998, without much sleep the night before. I was a bag of nerves. Competitions took place in a big cage. Once you enter the cage you would then be tied to the ground with some very strong straps for safety reasons. Around the cage there would always be three or four officials. The rules were very strict. Your coach wasn’t allowed anywhere near you. You weren’t allowed to use your own equipment. You were allowed five attempts in total. Two practice throws followed by three competition throws.

The officials would always sound a horn to let you know when to throw, and to warn the spectators. To be honest the horn sounded like a sick duck, and it often put me off.That day I threw the club just over six metres. I just about qualified. I was thrilled. I left the field with a tear in my eye. I stayed in a five star hotel with the rest of the squad that night. We had a meal together. I travelled home to Anglesey the next morning. I felt washed out. When I got home I fell asleep on the sofa.

 My next stop was Brecon in South Wales. It was cold and windy. I was feeling sick with nerves. The wind is the club thrower’s worst nightmare. It was my turn. I gave it all that I had, but the wind threw my club down at five metres. That was just not good enough. That was below standard, and way below my own standards. I put my head in my hands and began sobbing. I was glad to see the back of Brecon. Well, until next time anyway. I left without a medal that day.

 The most bitter sweet moment of my career occurred at the CP World Championships in 2001. The Chinese coach Quang Jaung tried to get me disqualified for lifting my bum off the seat whilst throwing the club. It was a false allegation and they didn’t succeed to strip of my bronze medal. I left Nottingham with a mile long smile on my face that day.

I had some success that year. I only took home bronze medals, so I was left feeling disappointed. Well at least I had something to work on for the next season. I was highly thought of in the squad. I was a good hard working athlete, but I often let my nerves get the better of me. It was only because I cared so much.

By 1999 things were really looking up. Wales was sponsored by British Telecom. I was awarded the Mark Lynes Cup for Achievement in Athletics. I was deeply touched that my effort had been recognised by the coaching staff and my team mates. It was a much needed confidence boost. My medal count was growing. I picked up two silver medals. One in the Welsh Games in Wrexham, the other at the Colwyn Bay Games in Colwyn Bay. It was simply an amazing feeling. All of my hard work was beginning to pay off. I had a sense of belonging by this point. I also felt as if I’d discovered my purpose in life.

In March that year I was selected to go warm weather training in Portugal. I couldn’t believe it. I was so excited. Not only was I going to fly for the first time. I was representing my country, and I was going to spend my twenty first birthday in Portugal too.

The day we flew is a day I will never forget. There was a dress code. Black trousers, white shirt or blouse, black shoes, and our black white and yellow Wales Centre of Excellence jackets. Before we took off from Manchester. The captain welcomed us on board. All of the passengers clapped and cheered. We joined in too. Well we were on our way to Portugal after all. The plane took off at five hundred miles an hour down the runway. I felt excited and scared at the same time.

The highlight of my career happened in the summer of 2000. It was the moment I’d been dreaming of for the whole of my athletic career. One minute I was just an average person, the next I was twice Welsh National Champion. My senses were overwhelmed. There were people clapping and cheering as I proudly took the podium. The medals were placed around my neck. I threw my fist up in the air in celebration. It was simply the best day of my life, and of all the places I could have been that day I was in Cardiff.

Being in Cardiff that day meant everything to me, being presented with the gold medal, and gaining the title Welsh National Champion was simply the icing on the cake.

I knew I was in real trouble now. But only in a good way. It was when the BBC and S4C came knocking on my door that I truly realised what I’d done. There were people congratulating me and wishing me luck everywhere I turned. It was very humbling. It was very difficult to even find the time to do normal things. And then surviving that Grand Prix in London…



Another week to Celebrate-Carers Week

Last week we celebrated “Volunteers Week” which is all about acknowledging the wonderful work carried out by many dedicated people. As you all know we at Shropshire Disability Network are so grateful to all our volunteers & like many other charities we would not be able to function without them. Thanks to all who give their time.

This week we celebrate “Carers Week”. It is good & important that we wave the flag of family carers & the work family & friends do because they care for loved ones, many of whom work 24/7, don’t get a holiday & respite is not that easy to get.  Debbie Humphries, Associate Solicitor with Lanyon Bowdler has written this blog which we are so pleased to share. Read it here by clicking on this link

Thank you to Debbie & Sophie Davies from Lanyon Bowdler for sending this to us.

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Kelda writes ..first going out to Duisburg for the World Cup to race in my first international

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, first going out to Duisburg for the World Cup to race in my first international wearing a GB shirt, then coming back to head straight off on our first Climbing Out programme of the year with 12 inspiring young people all in recovery from cancer.

So where do I begin…..Well the World Cup was a huge learning curve! I didn’t deliver the performance I’d hoped for, but boy did I learn a lot! I’ll be honest, I went out there with such high expectations of myself and I was disappointed with how I paddled. I finished 3rd in my heat, which put me through to the finals on the Saturday. I felt strong and well prepared, but in the heat of the moment my lack of race experience showed and I paddled a weak second half of the race finishing 6th. Yes, I was pretty annoyed with myself, because I’m capable of paddling so much better…but, the point of going out there was to learn, and I did that in bucket loads!

Team Duisburg!

It was an amazing experience to be out there as part of the squad, and I felt incredibly proud….I had to take a moment sitting on the start line and just take in just what was happening! Kelda Wood, who’d dreamed of representing her country from being a young kid, was sat there wearing her GB shirt and was part of the most incredible team. It really did feel pretty special. OK, I was disappointed, but it’s about taking away the learnings and moving forwards….I better just make sure I get my bum in gear now and put all those learnings into practise in time for the selections for the World Championships on the 5th July.

That in itself is a pretty scary thought! I’ve just 5 weeks to pull my socks up! The reality is, that at the minute, I’m not going fast enough….I know I’m capable, but it’s just not quite coming together on the water. But now’s the time to trust the coaches, stick to my processes….and get my head down and work hard! We have the most amazing team here and with their support I fully believe I can do it….let’s just hope it happens sooner rather than later!!

I then had less than 24 hours at home before heading up to the Lake District for our Climbing Out programme. It kinda puts things into perspective really…we get so wound up about paddling 200 metres, and then you meet the most amazing group of young people all in recovery from cancer, and I suddenly feel quite selfish getting so focused on winning races!

I can never quite pin point the magic that happens on the programmes, but something incredibly special takes place. To see the young people support each other, develop friendship and push themselves to do things they would never have believed possible at the start of the week, makes me so proud of the young people and everything that they achieve on the programmes. I truly believe the week had a life changing impact on many of the guys that took part and I hope they all left with that little bit more confidence and self-belief that will help them to get out there and live life.

 After all, that’s what it’s all about………





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Peter writes about a visit he made during Dementia week.

Dementia Week brought out the best in Bluebird Care, which in turn brought out tea and cakes, nibbles, balloons, more cakes … and the Fire Brigade. The Bayston Hill-based care providers really got into the spirit of raising awareness of dementia with a street party in front of the local parade of shops.

It wasn’t all fun, because there were some serious and useful presentations going on as well, and with a whacking great fire engine parked outside it was bound to get attention.

The fire crew entered into the spirit of the occasion and busily signed people up for a free home safety check. Also supporting the event were Wiltshire Farm Foods and Salop Mobility. Now that is what we call networking.

Our picture shows some of the staff, carers and fire crew outside Bluebird Care.

SDN says “Thank you Peter. If anyone goes to an event or want to something with with our members, then write a few words & send us a photo or two & we will be pleased to do the rest”.


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Shropshire Hill Discovery Centre Blog & Invite

Ray Hughes, Project Officer at Cycling for All writes “In case you couldn’t make the try out session on Saturday 16th May, I want to let you know the trail was enjoyed by a wide range of riders on bikes of all shapes and sizes (kindly provided by Quest 88 and Cycling Projects). Tom Simpson the path contractor has kindly added a pull in section for non-riders to stand on to watch and for bikes not in use to be situated.

I’ve taken some young children from the neighbouring Stokesay Primary School there and they too enjoyed themselves in this safe, traffic free and beautiful space. See the school newsletter attached”.

See press article at

There will be another opportunity to use the trail along with other fun cycling activities as part of the centre’s Fun Day on Sunday 16 June – Click here Family Fun Day and Cycle Sunday 14June at Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre . You, your family and friends are of course cordially invited!