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 And they’re off!….Too blooming right!!!!!

 And they’re off!

The first regatta of the season took place this weekend…..unfortunately I wasn’t on the start line because of my stress fracture, but it was awesome to see the rest of the squad racing at last after all the hard work of winter training. There were some exciting performances and it looks like we’ve got an exciting season ahead.

I’m not going to lie, I was gutted I wasn’t racing, but, it was a great opportunity to stand back, watch and learn.

It’s made me all the more determined and hungry to get back into full training. I’ve been told if everything goes well over the next week then we can look at starting to krank things up the week after, so hopefully it won’t be long. An appeal was made to the International panel this week to give me permission to compete at the World Cup in May, even though I didn’t race at the selection regatta this weekend. I should find out later this week, so I’m keeping everything crossed!

It hasn’t been easy, but I do feel that the injury has been an opportunity. I’m mentally and physically much stronger, and I feel in a great position to start transferring that onto the water. As my coach said on Saturday….”Lets aim to get out and impress at the World Cup”

Too bloomin’ right!!!!:-)


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Vote for Your Life!!

Peter our newsletter editor has recently been reading the Benefits & Work website which carries an article about benefit cuts & what could happen in the pending general election.

It is Your Choice & Your Vote & you must decide on your vote.

Here Peter shares one grim story-

 ‘Vote for your life’ is the advice being given to disabled people and carers by the Benefits & Work website, which does so much to expose the unfairness and discrimination in the benefits system.

It is warning that Iain Duncan Smith has threatened ‘dramatic’ and ‘life-changing’ benefits cuts if the Tories retain power on7 May. That could include:

  • Taxing DLA, PIP and AA, 
  • Axeing contribution-based ESA and JSA, 
  • Abolishing the work-related activity group of ESA, 
  • Cutting carer’s allowance numbers by 40%, and 
  • Making people pay the first 10% of their housing benefit.

 For many, these will be life-threatening cuts, rather than life-changing ones, says B&W, but adds: ‘Claimants are in a position to prevent them happening.And it won’t take a miracle.

In fact, just an additional 5% turnout by working age claimants could have a dramatic and life-changing effect on IDS and his plans instead.

But a higher turnout won’t happen by itself. Labour are too frightened of the tabloids to try to rally claimants. Many of the major charities and disability organisations have been scared into silence by the Lobbying Act. And the media has little interest in benefits cuts, other than to applaud them as a good thing.

So it looks like it’s up to ordinary claimants to make sure as many other claimants as possible understand the threat they are facing.’The tool for those dramatic changes is £12 billion of cuts to benefits in just two years.

So far, we only know where £2 billion of the cuts will come from – a freeze on working age benefits. The Conservatives are refusing to say where the other savings will be made.’

However, a document leaked to the BBC says limiting child benefit to the first two children is under consideration.

Other proposed cuts include replacing industrial injuries benefits with an insurance policy for employers, regional benefit caps and changes to council tax.

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies: If all of these were implemented, the total saving would be likely to fall well short of the missing £10 billion per year that the Conservatives intend to find by 2017–18.’

So, what else might be in the firing line? Who can say!

Duncan Smith, Osborne and Cameron have all said no details of the cuts will be given before the election.

Clearly, the most important thing you can do is to make sure you are registered to vote and then actually vote for a candidate who can keep the Tories out, if that’s possible, in your constituency.

Alert other claimants and carers to the dramatic threat they face and try to persuade them that voting isn’t a waste of time. It is no longer true that all the parties are the same.

Don’t imagine that your voice can’t make a difference.There will be many seats where the winner’s majority is in the low hundreds, some where it will be less than a hundred. Even a 5% additional turnout by working age claimants could make the difference. If you can convince a handful of people to vote and to talk to other claimants, you could genuinely help to change the course of this election.

Reminder: If you have recently moved or are not registered then you must register by 20th April to vote in the General Election on 7th May then visit to apply to register online.


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Half way to Athens….I was 7 years old when I beat Tanni GreyThompson….

Welcome to Tracy Jones-SDN member, former Welsh Athlete, raised in Anglesey now living in Shropshire who shares her personal story with us. Thank you Tracy.

Just imagine, me taking part in the Paralympics in Athens. I’d worked hard for this, my family had been truly supportive. One last hurdle to get over.

I spent a lot of time in the Algarve in Portugal warm weather training in preparation for the Paralympics in Athens 2004. My last trip to the Algarve was partly funded by the National Lottery. A few months later I tore a ligament in my left knee and I was forced to quit. I was simply mortified. I would never wear a Great Britain tracksuit. It was the end of the world for me. It was the night before the Grand Prix qualifying stage in London in preparation for the Paralympics 2004 in Athens. I felt a sharp pain in my left knee when I was throwing the discus. I thought nothing much and just carried on. Of course I didn’t tell anyone and travelled to London the next day.

The day didn’t go too well for me. I felt sick, I was in agony, and that was before my events. My club throwing left a lot to be desired. My discus wasn’t too bad. I would have got silver if they were presenting medals. 

I arrived back home in Oswestry. Still in agony, I went to bed. Mum called the doctor.He suspected that I had torn a ligament in my left knee. Knowing only too well what this could mean I took some pain killers and cried myself to sleep. Weeks later I went to see a specialist in Shrewsbury Hospital. I was sent for an X – ray. My worst fear was confirmed. I had torn a ligament in my left knee and my sporting career was now over.

The doctor told me that key hole surgery was an option, but as I also had arthritis and my knee hadn’t formed properly anyway there was a chance that I’d never be able to stand up again and I could have lost what little mobility I had. The doctor also added, if I was going to go ahead with the surgery I’d need to go for a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. I declined and left the hospital as quickly as I could.

From that moment on I felt useless and I struggled to see the point in doing anything. My days so long and it was one sleepless night after another. I was no longer part of a team. I began to feel isolated. It was almost like I was grieving. I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I felt really low. Eventually I went to the doctors. I was diagnosed with depression.

One day I suddenly remembered what Anthony (my coach) had said to me one Thursday evening in training. “Tracy you’ve got the mouth for this.” He meant sports coaching. So just out of interest, and to see if he was right, in September 2007 I enrolled myself on an introductory diploma in sport at Walford and North Shropshire College. I passed with merit and I just kept going back for more.

Four years later with three diplomas, two Student of the Year trophies, and the option to go to university, I was definitely happy again.

I have always been keen on sport. When I was just seven years old I beat Tanni Grey Thompson in a wheelchair race in a school sports day at Ysgol Gogarth in Llandudno. I was buzzing with excitement. When I became a student at Derwen College in Gobowen in 1997, I had no idea that I was going to be transformed from an average nineteen year old to a world class athlete.

 Next time: What happened that made Tracy write “All I did for weeks and weeks and weeks was throw these dreadful blue sandbags at a net & what happens to make me happy!”









Kelda writes I’ve only done 2 light paddles….


I’ve just really got one thing to say this week (for once!) and that’s just that it is sooooo good to be back on the water!!

I’ve only done 2 light paddles but hey, it’s a start! And the good news is that nothing flared up from my injury, so I get to do 4 paddles next week! One step at a time ‘n’ all that!:-)

It’s been a tough week for some of the other guys on the squad though. The classifier has been going through all the new classification system, and it’s going to have a big impact on some people….. good for some, and not so good for others.

I often say life is very like a sat nav….you put in your destination and plan your route, but things happen along the way that mean you get held up, sometimes you have to take an alternative route, and sometimes you have to change direction all together.

I guess the skill is taking control of what you can and making sure the place you end up is still a place you want to be.


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Kelda writes To be honest…I’ve been proper grumpy!


Do you want me to be honest….I’ve been proper grumpy this week! I’m fed up of half killing myself on the bike and hours of tedious rehab, when I can’t even get out on the water and start to feel the benefit of it all! Grrrrrrr! I’ve struggled to keep motivated, and I’ve felt really frustrated watching the other guys training on the lake!

OK, so I know it’s all heading in the right direction and I’m sure I’m getting huge benefits from it all…..but still – I WANT TO PADDLE!!!!! There, rant over…..I’m allowed to be grumpy once in a while!!

It hasn’t helped that it was the first race of the season this Saturday….and, while the rest of the squad were racing, where was I…in the gym giving myself wobbly legs syndrome after another lactic session on the bike!

Is it time to stop moaning yet!!

On a positive note, I really can feel the benefits of all the rehab – I just sooo want to get back to lifting a bit of weight! I can go for a light 2k paddle on Monday….which is VERY exciting. Fingers crossed, if nothing flares up, I can start getting back into a bit of light training the following week. I sooooo hope so!

I chatted with Matt, my coach, on Friday….there may be a chance of me racing at the next regatta if everything goes well with my recovery. We’ve said we’ll make a decision after Easter weekend, and from there we can start to consider whether there’s any chance of me being back in time for the World Cup later in May. I’m keeping everything crossed. If I can get to the World Cup then I’ll know for sure that I’ve got my international classification, something I’d rather not wait until the Worlds in August to find out!

I’m still looking at this whole process, it is all part of the learning curve, and it’ll make me a stronger athlete in the long run….but hey, everyone’s allowed a grumpy week!:-)

What doesn’t break us makes us stronger!


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Kelda writes “Feeling Strong…and an inspiring evening!”

 For some crazy reason I feel ridiculously confident at the minute! Despite the stress fracture I’m working hard, I know where I’m at and where I’m aiming….and truly believe I can do it!

The rehab programme that’s been put in place is really working on my weaknesses, and I feel when I get back on the water I’m going to be so much stronger. I’m also smashing the cv side of things on the bike and cross trainer and I am really starting to notice a difference.  I am doing a lot of imagery work, which is proving to be really helpful, and I am spending time on my mental approach to racing that I’d never been able to do if the injury hadn’t happened. I’m excited about being able to put all these developments together when I get back on the water. All in all, I think the injury has turned out to be a real positive, and put me in a stronger position in the long term. Good times!

For me, the real highlight of the week was the Climbing Out Charity Evening on Saturday night. It was a fantastic night, and the support from young people, their friends and family and our funders and partner organisations was incredible. It makes me so proud to see how much the young people who have been involved in our programmes are achieving, and it was wonderful to hear the words of the young people that stood up and spoke. We also presented the Climbing Out awards for the first time, and it was a very special moment to recognise the outstanding achievements of some inspiring young people.

It’s been a busy week, and I’m aware I need to make sure I schedule in some recovery time….I’m just not sure when- it’s another hectic, but exciting week coming up!

SDN would like to say “Thank you to Climbing Out, we had a fantastic evening with you. Your work is inspirational & we would like to congratulate all the winners but also all who are achieving through your programmes. Wishing you all another great year ahead.”


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Kelda writes “It’s Rehab Rehab Rehab”

Kelda writes “It’s Rehab Rehab Rehab”

It’s been a challenging week for most of the squad. 2 weeks ago, we were notified about changes in the classification system for the sport and the new system means some athletes will no longer be eligible to compete, and some will move into a new class. This has hit the squad hard and created some real challenges for a number of athletes. I guess this is the cut throat side of the sport, but a lot of dreams have been put on the line this week, which isn’t nice to see.

For me, it looks pretty certain I will still get classification. I’m a borderline athlete as I have only a minimal disability, but I should still classify the under the new system. My biggest challenge currently is managing the stress fracture I picked up 2 weeks ago. We’ve now put a rehab programme together….it’s important we deal with the reasons why the injury happened, not just getting it to heal as quickly as possible, so a tedious and pretty boring rehab regime is now in place! I understand why I have to do it….but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating when you want to push on with full training.

On the positive side of things though, I do believe this will leave me in a stronger position when I get back into full training. The Europeans and probably the World Cup are out for me now, but this means we’ve got time to work on my weaknesses, get me strong and robust so I can aim to get out and give it my all at the Worlds in August. The aim is to be back into full training by May, which then gives me just over 3 months to get back strong and fully fit for the Worlds….and in the meantime, it’s rehab, rehab, rehab! What fun!!!! Lol.

Last week I also went along to the Winter School Games held at Shrewsbury Sports Village and organised by Energize in conjunction with Sainsbury’s and Shropshire Homes. There were over 750 young people there and it was fantastic to see the energy and enthusiasm from them all. There was a great atmosphere and some competitive sports being played. Well done to all those involved.

It was an honour to speak to the VIP’s attending the day, and there may now be the opportunity for me to work with young people in some of our local schools supporting and raising awareness about the benefits of sport, something that I’m excited and very passionate about.

It’s still a busy time with everything else. It’s the Climbing Out Charity Evening next Saturday so there’s lots to get organised for that, and on Friday I‘m off to the National SHE Awards having been nominated for an award along with 3 other Shropshire woman….time to get the glad rags on for the evening – I better go and dust the cobwebs off them!



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Feeling Gutted says Kelda but SDN are rooting for her & wish her well…!

 Well, this week has shown… can make all the plans in the world, but you never quite know what’s round the corner. On Friday night I got the results back from my MRI scan – it wasn’t the news I was hoping for. I’ve got a stress fracture to a rib on my left side and they reckon it’ll be 8 weeks until I can get back into full training. This will have a major impact on the plans for this year as I’ll miss our first regatta and it rules out the Europeans.

This was quite a kick in the belly as I’ve been working so hard towards these 2 goals and was completely focused on getting to the Europeans. I wallowed in self pity on Friday night and rebelled by eating cake (sorry coaches if you happen to read this!), but woke up Saturday, had another quick cry, then gave myself a kick up the bum, re-evaluated my plans for this summer and started focusing on what I could do over the next 8 weeks to keep moving me forwards and make sure I turned these 8 weeks into an opportunity rather than a setback.

It’s not easy to stay positive, but having just spent the most incredible week at Battle Back working with some amazing guys that are dealing with much bigger challenges than 8 weeks restricted training, it’s been time to practice a bit of what I preach! I’ve been telling the guys all week that life is a journey, and sometimes you can’t always go in the direction you want to go, but every stage of the journey will teach you something and will, if you let it, make you stronger in the future.

So that’s what I’m going to do! I’m meeting with the coaches tomorrow (Monday 2nd March) to put a plan of action together, and lets make sure that I come out of the next 8 weeks stronger, fitter….and even more focused and determined to get where I aiming to go! I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but it will be interesting to see what I’ve learnt at the end of it.

I heard a quote on the radio the other days that says it all: “Fruits grow in the valleys not on the mountain tops”

The challenge for me will be to stay sensible and not push things too hard and cause things to take even longer to heal!

I want to thank the guys I’ve worked with this week, it was inspiring to see the change in them over their 5 days at Battle Back. I know they got a huge amount out of the programme, but they also taught me so much and enabled me to put this set back very much into perspective.

Life will always be full of ups and downs – it’s how you deal with them that really matters.


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Despite Injury, Kelda takes a positive view!


After having such a great week last week, I was so determined to build on the progress I’d made, but hey, things never go quite according to plan do they!

I picked up a bit of an injury, hopefully nothing serious, but I have to go for an MRI scan next week to check things out. It’s been frustrating as, yet again, I’ve had to back off training. At least I can still do CV and lower limb work… I’m going to have the strongest legs EVER!:-)

I’ve had to move my focus to other gains I can make, so I’ve spent time doing a bit of visualisation, watching lots of technical clips on You Tube and planning my pre race routine and warm up. Not exactly what I’d choose to be doing, but I guess the way to look at it is that it’ll all help me to get to where I want to go.

I often say I think of life as a Sat Nav….you put in your end goal, but sometimes things happen along the way that means you have to take a slightly different route to get there.

I see it all as part of the learning process and fingers crossed in 7-10 days I’ll be back ready to work hard.

On a more positive note, this week I also got my GB kit!!!!:-) This was such a special moment for me. From a very young age I always dreamed of representing my country, although I always believed it would be on a horse. To finally have that jacket with Great Britain written across the back was quite a surreal moment. It’s still hanging in my hall so I can keep reminding myself that this is actually happening! It just shows, you never know what great things are round the corner….you’ve just got to keep going round those corners and through those doors to give it a chance to happen!


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Accessing Funding for Care – Glyn Banks Tells of His Frustration.

Glyn Banks has e-mailed SDN with his well publicised story of frustrated attempts to access adequate funding for care services. His story may be of interest to some of SDN’s membership.

Glyn writes:

After three years of trying to avoid the issue, Philip Dunne MP has finally decided not to call a full public inquiry into Shropshire Council’s adult social care funding policy and as a result has thrown away an election photo opportunity.

Shropshire Council has set a standard rate of payment to care homes so low that NO care homes in Shropshire can provide adequate care at this rate thus making the demand for top-ups from relatives both inevitable and unlawful. 

However, Shropshire Council’s Head of Adult Services Mr. Stephen Chandler has informed Mr. Dunne that ALL care homes in Shropshire can provide care at Council rates. In response to this I have repeatedly requested a list of care homes in Shropshire which are currently providing care at the Council’s standard rate. However, Philip Dunne MP has failed to follow up this request due I believe to his unwillingness to confront the issue of systematic financial abuse of the elderly and their relatives by the Council.

Clearly he wants to take what the Council says at face value and to believe that having carried out a review of its own policy as requested by the Ombudsman, the Council is now acting lawfully despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Following the launch of the Toxic Top-ups website Solicitors for the Elderly has updated its own website:

“A Shropshire legal expert is urging elderly people and their families to fight against care charges being wrongfully imposed by the local authority. Nicola Hawes says that HUNDREDS OF CARE HOME RESIDENTS MAY BE AFFECTED BY SHROPSHIRE COUNCIL’S UNLAWFUL ACTIONS.”

This confirms the statement by Heather Osborne Chief Executive of Age Concern Shropshire Telford and Wrekin who has said: 

“…. unfortunately the price that the Council is prepared to pay does not reflect the cost of the vast majority of care homes in Shropshire. This means …..  once their own funding runs out a top-up is almost inevitable ….” 

Families Foot Bills for Care Home Top-up Fees.  Shropshire Star 24 November 2012

On the same day that Philip Dunne notified me of his decision I had a surprise meeting with a number of Councillors, one very senior, who confirmed all my worst fears as detailed on the Toxic Top-ups website and also, despite the reviews carried out, that the Council is still continuing with its unlawful policy.

Also discussed was the severity of the cuts particularly within social services etc.; the current leadership of the Council and the undemocratic way decisions are being taken and cuts applied with irreparable damage; the upcoming crisis in adult social care as a result of the Council’s multi-million pound overspend; etc. ….. clearly there are the beginnings of dissent and dissatisfaction now appearing within the Council.

As a result of Philip Dunne’s decision not to give Shropshire Council the chance to publicly clear its name, the way is now clear for someone else to seize the opportunity and call for a public enquiry ….. watch this space.



Glyn Banks 01746 767966