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- 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…

 

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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 http://blog.lblaw.co.uk/carers-week/

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 http://www.ludlowadvertiser.co.uk/news/12957862.Cycle_trail_opens_at_Discovery_Centre_in_Craven_Arms/

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!

 

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Kelda writes I make no apologies…..

If you get fed up with reading my blogs….then I’m afraid I make no apologies for giving you an extra one to read….and a soppy one at that!

I’ve had to take a moment this week to stop and take in just how bloody lucky I am….and I want to say thank you to everyone who have helped make it happen.

As many of you know, my life has changed ten fold for the better since I got involved with the GB paracanoe squad. It has given me confidence, focus, purpose and belief….but more than anything it’s made me realise what amazing people I’m surrounded by.

The support and team work from the squad, the coaches and the support staff has been something very special to be part of, and I also want to thank my friends, neighbours, work colleagues and long suffering shoulders to cry on….you’ve been amazing, and the support you’ve shown me is truly valued and appreciated.

In the past I have never had the friendship and support that I now see every single day, and I know I’m incredibly lucky to be surrounded by such good people.

I hope you all know who you are….so many people have helped in so many different ways. But I want to say thank you, it means the world to me. On Sunday we fly out to Germany to compete in the World Cup. Representing GB will fulfil a lifelong dream of mine and I will be so proud to wear the GB kit. It is of course, just a small step in a much bigger journey aimed at the paralympics in Rio next year….but what an awesome opportunity that small step is and I intend to give it my very, very best!

So many people have done so much, but every kind word, telephone call, feeding of my cat or kick up the bum has helped give me the confidence, belief and ability to make this happen. It really is appreciated….Thank you.

 

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Kelda writes Straight from the heart….we may have a break through.

Right…I always said this blog was going to be open and honest, so this one’s coming straight from the heart! I don’t quite know where to start this week….I’ve learnt so much!

At the start of the week I was getting so frustrated with not getting it right, then I start to beat myself up, and we get into a bit of a downward spiral. Then Matt (my coach) and me had a bit of a light bulb moment when he told me to stop thinking and just get aggressive!

Er hello, but how much easier does it make life when you just stop thinking!!!!

I so want to be the best I possibly can be, that I massively over analyse everything, over think the smallest detail and end up making the whole thing far too complicated! There’s a time and a place for focusing on technique, but blimey, what a learning it was to give my brain a rest and just get out there and get powerful. Once I stop letting the self doubt get in the way, I’ve got so much fight there that some good things start to happen…and the great thing is this can only get better and better as I get back into full training and get stronger and fitter following on from the injury.

So when it came to racing this weekend, my aim was to control myself mentally, to stay strong and focus on delivering the processes we’d put in place….and not to get to wrapped up in the outcome, after all, that’s one thing we can’t control! I knew it would be a challenge for me, but I’ve worked so hard this week on this mental approach to the sport.

Up until Friday it all seemed to be going good, and I couldn’t believe how strong, confident and completely focused I felt. I was a great feeling!

 However, strong winds and horrible conditions on the water on Saturday morning gave the “doubting” thoughts a few chances to rear their ugly heads. I had some interesting conversations with myself…it was hard work, but I’m proud to say I controlled the little blighters!

I had 2 solid races…perhaps not the outcomes I would have ideally liked, but I stuck to my processes, had a couple of feisty little conversations with myself, and focused on delivering what I wanted to deliver.

I even managed not to beat myself up to much when I didn’t quite get the results I wanted…instead I just looked at what I’d learnt from it and what I could do next time to make things even better! (Although that didn’t stop me from still getting a bit frustrated…but that’s good, cause it’s going to motivate me to work even harder!)

Result!!!!

I finished the day more mentally knackered than physically, but hey, it’s a great step in the right direction for me!

We’ve now 2 weeks to go until the World Cup, and I’m excited to take away some confidence from everything I learnt  this week and to focus on delivering an even stronger performance in Germany!

…..We may have had a break through!!

 

 

 

 

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Tracy writes “All I did for weeks & weeks was throw throw dreadful blue sandbags”….

All I did for weeks and weeks and weeks was throw these dreadful blue sandbags at a net & what makes her happy!

It all began when I met fabrics tutor and Welsh athletics coach for the disabled, Anthony Hughes. In time Anthony and I got on rather well. He invited me along to an athletics training session that took place every Thursday night at The Flash Leisure Centre in Welshpool.

Five O’ clock that Thursday evening I got on the bus that was waiting outside the medical centre, and off we went. We arrived at the Leisure Centre. I went up in the lift, and went into the sports hall. It smelt of stale sweat.

We all lined up against the wall. Anthony said “Hi” to us all. Shortly after we started doing some warm-up exercises. Warm-up exercises are to prepare the body for exercise and prevent injury. We did many different exercises, but there is one that will stick with me forever. You clench your fists and hold your arms straight out to the side, and leave them there for one minute. The longer you leave them there the heavier your arms felt. It was like you had a bag of sand in each. My muscles were burning. I was so glad when it was over.

The sports hall was split into four different stations; javelin, shot putt, discus and club throwing. Anthony took me around each station, explained a little bit about each sport and allowed me to try each of them. We both agreed that club throwing might be the sport for me, so we made our way back to the club throwing station. He first of all made me observe someone throwing the club. After a while he told me to reverse up to the blue mat with my back to the net. He then handed me a small blue torn sandbag with a floppy handle and told me to throw it. I did just that until we were called to the wall to do our cool-down stretches at the end of the session. Cooling down is very important after exercise. It helps

to relax muscles minimising the risk of injury.

We then made our way to the café upstairs, where we had our tea. I felt drained

and struggled to pick up the fork to eat my baked potato. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I slept well that night. I continued with the training sessions every week and made steady progress.

All I did for weeks and weeks and weeks was throw these dreadful blue sandbags at a net. I got to know the sandbags quite well. It was fair to say that we had a love / hate relationship. Quite frankly their floppy little handle infuriated me.

Soon Anthony pointed out that I was looking to the side when I was throwing the bag. This was affecting my throw. I needed to be looking ahead, and get out of the habit of looking at the bag. After weeks of working on these points, and weeks of Anthony calling me spaghetti arms (Haha). My technique improved a lot and I progressed to throwing a club. I was very happy.

I trained hard for a period of twelve months. Then one Thursday night it was announced that there was a training session at The Flash Leisure Centre on the following Saturday. I went along. I couldn’t help but feel there was something a bit different going on. People had travelled up from South Wales. Obviously people I’d never seen before. Anyway I thought nothing of it and carried on. At the end of the session, Anthony wheeled beside me and said “You have just had your trial for Wales. You were successful. Congratulations!” I was speechless. I came over all emotional. My voice broke as I thanked him.

Next time: Read how & when “I began my International duty” & where my journey takes me ”….