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.

Training 250-253

Kelda writes …..resulted in me going for an involuntary swim after capsizing during training!

I had to have a bit of a chat to myself before I started writing this week. I’ve not had a great week, and I would normally keep those times when I’m not feeling strong and focused to myself. However, I want this to be a very honest and open account of what’s going on, so I guess there’s no point just writing about the good times!

I’ve found it quite a tough week. For whatever reason I’ve felt physically and mentally tired. Each morning I’ve got up thinking “today I’m going to go out and smash it” and I’ve really struggled to find the grit and determination to do it. It’s been frustrating…I think I’ve just got over tired. There’s been so much going on outside of training at the minute, and keeping on top of everything has been a challenge. I know I’ll get my mojo back, but it’s been an emotional week and there’s been a good few tears!

The weather hasn’t helped….it’s bloomin’ cold out on the water at the minute! The winds on Wednesday made life pretty difficult too, and resulted in me going for an involuntary swim after capsizing during training!

Even though I’ve struggled this week, things are still definitely improving. I’m lifting more weight in the gym and I’m feeling strong on the water….I’m just looking forward to what I can do once I’m feeling back to normal!

Earlier in the week I caught up on some information that we’d all been sent through about Rio 2016. It was a little bit surreal looking at the layout of the Olympic village, seeing the times of the opening and closing ceremony and being told the days our races would take place. It made the whole thing very real….and I cried – again!! As a kid I dreamed of representing my country and going to the Olympics, although I always thought it would be on a horse! And here I am, at 41years old, with a real chance of going….in a boat!!! I found it incredibly emotional when that realisation hit. But as my great friend, and 12 times paralympic swimming medallist Marc Woods said when I told him how upset I’d got “Use that emotion Kelda”. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do!

Next week I have every intention of training stronger, harder….and getting faster!

sport group

Be More Active

“Be More Active” not easy words to digest if you have a disability, yet it is quite amazing what we see from people who have lost limbs, have physical, sensory or learning difficulties-many achieving goals at the Paralympic Games and various other events. Whatever we partake in, whether at a gym, on our own or with others many people with disabilities have aims and are inspired to have a go whether by being inspired by an international, national or local hero we do things for different reasons. Just a couple of months ago many of us were glued to our TV’s as we watched the first Invictus games. 

If you are a regular visitor to our website, you will be reading the weekly blogs that Kelda Wood SDN Member is writing about,-her personal journey to Rio 2016. You will have heard about recent awards evening presented by Energize Shropshire Telford & Wrekin when many local people were recognised for sporting achievements. Whether winner of an award or finalist they were all achievers and put the county of Shropshire on the map. 

Vic Davies

Vic Davies

We often get people asking us about disability sport, either they are trying to find a particular sport or they want to know what is available or what they can do having regard for their disability or long term condition.  

We have had speakers at our SDN meetings ie Nick Beighton, Paralympian & Invictus Games Gold medalist as well as Ben Rowlings wheelchair racer. Ben’s aspiration is also to get to Rio 2016We have our own sports ambassador Grace Hough who was a gamesmaker at supporting us and helping with our signposting work. Recently you heard that Shropshire had appointed its first Sports Inclusion Officer-Jessica Lightwood. Those on the steering group of the Sports Inclusively Fit Project has held its first planning meeting and we are seeing that Jessica has been doing a huge amount of ground work enabling the project that we are involved with come to fruition. Now all parties concerned need to support Jessica and help move the project on.  

2015 is being highlighted as the year of Health and Wellbeing. The English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) have released a new publication. It covers all aspects of being more active -Why, How, What, Where. This is a guide, simply written and illustrated, click on this link, as it gives us tips and is packed with information & guidance.


Kelda writes We only had 4 legs between the 5 of us, and 2 of those were mine!!!

It’s been a full on week working at Battle Back, so I’ve had to fit in training early mornings and late night, which always makes for a pretty tiring week. It’s been great being able to work in the EIS gym though and it’s been pretty inspiring training along side the GB Archers and GB gymnasts. I have to say the guys I’ve been working with this week have been incredible too….on Tuesday we went climbing and caving, and I took a group of 5 down the indoor caving system at Wolf Mountain. We only had 4 legs between the 5 of us, and 2 of those were mine!!! Nothing stopped these guys, and their attitudes and approach to life is a complete inspiration.

Battle Back

Battle Back

I did manage to get out on the water early Wednesday when temperatures were just below freezing. It was fantastic to train watching the sun come up with a layer of mist across the water….even if it was a little chilly!

I’ve now got the next two weeks leading up to Christmas to focus on training so I’m looking forward to working hard and hopefully making some big gains so I can hit the New Year with a bang!

I’ve also been asked this week to get involved with the Energize Olympic Champion programme running in Shropshire. The programme offers schools visits by local high achieving sports stars, and I’m honoured to be asked to take part in this scheme. Raising awareness about the power of sport and the opportunities that are available to young people is something that I’m incredibly passionate about, so I’m really looking forward to getting involved and supporting Energize.

It’s been a sad week for Climbing Out, as on Friday I was told that Chloe Hood, a participant on one of our programmes, this week lost her fight to cancer. Chloe was a remarkable young lady, and our thoughts go out to her family and friends. She will be greatly missed.

I know Chloe’s death has had a big impact on many of the young people involved with Climbing Out, and in the words of one of our participants, “this Christmas remember to enjoy quite simply being lucky enough to be alive”

The one picture shows where I have been training this week and the other is of Chloe.

West Midlands Awards

It’s been a bit of a crazy week! And another Award!!

I know I say every week “What a week”…..but “Wow! What a week!”:-)

It’s been a tough week training. It’s been cold and wet out on the water and it can make it hard work to keep the motivation up. By Wednesday there wasn’t a muscle in my body that wasn’t hurting, and following a big session in the gym on Thursday and 2 tough sessions on the water on Friday, I think for the first time in my life, I bottomed out! Matt, my coach, said it was good to get to the point of complete exhaustion, it shows I’m working hard….I’m not quite so convinced! By the end of the session my mind was telling my body to keep working, but I just couldn’t physically give anything more. That left me in quite a weird place as I’ve always been mentally strong enough to keep pushing, but as Matt says, I guess this is all an important part of our training. I’ve now got the weekend off to recover….I need it!!

I also had some great news this week that the Shropshire Community Leisure Trust are going to sponsor me in the form of free access to the Shrewsbury Sports Village and the facilities there. This is very much appreciated and I am extremely grateful to the Trust for their support of my paracanoe journey.

It’s also been an incredible week for Climbing Out. On Thursday night we attended the West Midlands Community Sports Awards as we were up for The Community Project of the Year. Having been into Radio Shropshire at 8.30am Thursday morning to tell people a little a bit about Climbing Out, it was fantastic to attend the evening with a couple of participants from our programmes. We all felt slightly intimidated when we arrived at Aston Villa Football Club, it was a much higher profile event than I‘d imagined! It was an incredible evening with so many inspirational stories. Having watched the short film clips that had been made about all the organisations in our category, I really didn’t think we stood much of a chance as they are all doing amazing work.

I felt incredibly proud of Climbing Out when we were read out as the winners.

It is an absolute credit to everyone involved in the charity that we won this award, and thanks must go to everyone who has been involved in making Climbing Out what it is. It’s amazing to think how far we have come over the last 4 years, and hopefully this recognition will help us raise further awareness and reach even more young people in the future.

Well, after all the excitement, it’s back to the drawing board next week. I’m working at Battle Back again so it’s back to 5am starts and late nights in the gym…oh well, it can’t be fun and games all the time!:-)

Kelda for Nick 520 - 523

It’s training, talks, more training, working, more training & fingers crossed an award

It’s been a week of 5am starts and late nights this week. My high point of the week has definitely been surviving!! I’ve been working at Battle Back, so I’ve had to fit in training early in the mornings and when we’ve all finished in the evenings. It’s hard work, but it’s been a real privilege using the EIS gym this week and I’ve felt very motivated (and slightly intimidated) when I’ve been surrounded by the guys from GB gymnastics and GB Archery. I’m getting stronger and the cardio sessions, as horrible as they are, are starting to pay off!!

 I shot down to Nottingham on Friday once we’d finished and had a great session on the water, so I can’t wait to get stuck back into training again next week. On Tuesday night I did a talk to the battlebackers about my journey with paracanoe, and I really hope it inspired some of them to see their own injuries as the start of new opportunities. I feel so lucky to be on the journey I’m on, and I really feel it’s my responsibility to try and make others aware of the opportunities that are out there, so for those that need it, they might have the chance to change how they feel about their injury or illness.

It’s been a busy week for Climbing Out too. I did a talk earlier in the week at The Rotary Club District Council which was well received. Rotary have always been a big supporter of Climbing Out and we are incredibly grateful for everything that they have done in the past. There are some exciting developments in the pipeline now and we look forward to working closely with them in the future.

This Thursday Climbing Out is off to the Midlands Community Sports Awards, so hopefully I’ll be back with some good news in my next blog. Fingers crossed!

ian 2 250-253

Ian’s Blog – Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration

1 – Introduction

I thought I would write a blog about Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration (Wet AMD) and what it is like living with this condition, with a view to raising awareness about it.

I’m not an expert on the condition itself, other than being an expert in how it affects me personally !

In writing this blog, I’ve borrowed heavily on information provided by the Macular Society ( of which I am a member. Their leaflets give some very good explanations of the condition itself and also about a variety of related topics – more information about the Society will be given in a future blog instalment.

I have also used some information from the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) (


2 – What is AMD?

The macular, which is about the size of a grain of rice, is located in the retina at the back of the eye. It gives us our central vision, much of the colour vision and also the fine detail of what we see.

Age related Macular Degeneration

It also has a very high concentration of photoreceptor cells – these are the cells that detect light – they send signals to the brain which then interprets them as images.

The rest of the retina processes our peripheral vision.

Although there are different types of macular disease, they all make eyesight blurred or distorted, resulting in progressive and sometimes quite severe gaps in, or loss of, central vision.

It isn’t painful and affects the vision used when looking directly at something, for example, when reading, looking at photographs, using the computer, watching television etc.

I have Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration, which is one of the two types of AMD. It occurs quicker and is more aggressive than the dry type – abnormal blood vessels grow in the retina, which then bleed and scar the macular – this is what causes the rapid loss of central vision.

Wet AMD can be treated with injections of Avastin ,Lucentis or Eylea in the affected eye – I am having Eylea injections in my left eye.

Although Wet AMD can be treated, it cannot be cured.

Dry AMD involves slow loss of central vision over a number of years and there is no treatment for it at the moment. However, Roche are currently undertaking phase three trials of a potential treatment – lampalizumab.

Before I had my first Eylea injection, the doctor told me that about 30% of people who had the injections noticed some improvement in their sight (this would be over a varying number of injections).

For the vast majority of people, the injections stop the sight getting any worse, but in a small number of cases, the injections actually make it worse – but then there is always an element of risk with any procedure.

He did say though, that if I didn’t have the injections, my sight would definitely get worse anyway.

I have had Wet AMD in my right eye for a number of years and for a few months now, in my left eye too.

I can’t have injections in my right eye as there is too much scarring, although I did have Photodynamic Therapy (laser treatment) several years ago when the Eye Infirmary was at Chapel Ash in Wolverhampton.

Kelda Wood with Sharon Davies

Kelda Writes … “but it’s been a lesson to me just how much I want this..”

More gains have been made this week. I’m getting some real power in the water now and I feel like the penny’s finally dropped and I’m attacking every stroke. I was working at Battle Back at the start of the week, so it’s always tough going, getting up at 5am to train before work, and then hitting the gym for a good session in the evenings too makes it a long day.

I’ve had to really manage the niggle in my shoulder during the week, I was getting pretty concerned by Wednesday/Thursday. Managing my shoulder and my tiredness levels this week hasn’t been easy, but it’s been a lesson to me just how much I want this. It would’ve been very easy for my head to go down…it didn’t, and I pushed through both the shoulder and the tiredness and came out of the week feeling much stronger as a result – both mentally and physically! Another big learning curve.

I’ve managed to get access to the English Institute of Sport Gym at The National Sports Centre at Lilleshall, so this will be a big help – especially as I’m working there all next week. This means another week of early mornings and late nights, but hopefully I can still keep making the gains, both in strength and fitness now I can get into this gym.

I’m still having to eat over 185g of protein a day, but I’m starting to see a difference!

I’m looking for a sponsor now too – things are getting serious, and I’m hoping to find a company that might consider supporting my journey. I’ve just got to find the time to write some letters!

I had some exciting news on Thursday too…but I’ve got to keep it to myself for now!!:-)

Kelda Wood with Sharon Davies

Congratulations Kelda Wood

All of us at SDN would like to congratulate Climbing Out & all the hard work that Kelda does for it. The photograph shows Kelda collecting her award from Sharron Davies MBE at the Energize 2014 Awards. We wish her & all contestants well at the West Midlands Community Sports Awards on the 27thNovember




9th November Kelda writes….”Training is hard….injury problems …filming & an Award!”



I’m starting to think my life is getting too surreal for words! It’s been another eventful week. Training’s been hard, we’re still in the hypertrophy phase, which means we’re really pushing our bodies in attempt to get some big gains in muscle mass and strength over the winter. By Friday I was exhausted and my body was so sore I couldn’t even bend down to put my socks on! It’s difficult to feel good on the water when you feel so sore, but I’m hoping it’ll all come together as my body learns to cope.

I’ve had a little injury niggle this week too, which has showed me that I’m not invincible and I’m going to have to look after myself if I’m going to survive the whole process….something that I’m still finding difficult as I try and juggle training, Climbing Out, Battle Back and all my animals. I’ve always worked on the motto “there’s plenty of time to sleep when you’re dead”…… but I’m learning that sleeps pretty important to give my body the recovery time. I think it’s time to take a look at how I move forwards from here….but I’m not quite sure what to do about it!

The BBC were at the centre filming us training on Friday, we’ve been told to expect a lot of this leading up to Rio 2016 as were currently the leading nation. It was all pretty surreal as they had smoke machine’s going and everything….not the normal occurrence on a cold and wet training day at Nottingham!

On top of that, it’s been a great week for Climbing Out. We finished 3rdin the Lloyds Bank Community Fund Awards on Tuesday, winning £1,000 and then followed up by winning the Community Project of the Year at the Energize Awards on Thursday evening. I’m incredibly proud of the recognition Climbing Out is now getting, and hopefully this will enable us to reach even more young people in the future. We now go through to the West Midlands Community Sports Awards on the 27thNovember. Fingers crossed!

kelda wood 250 253

2nd November Kelda Writes …”What an amazing week”

What an amazing week! We had a 24hr stay in Sweden to take part in testing regarding classification in preparation for Tokyo in 2020, it was great fun and really interesting to see how the system works.

As soon as we got back to the United Kingdom, it was straight back into full training and I’ve made some huge gains this week…on Thursday I was told I was paddling better than girls in the women’s final at the Worlds this year. That is just so incredible to hear, and for the first time in my life I’m starting to actually believe in myself. It’s given me so much motivation to keep working and training hard, the whole process is suddenly starting to feel very real and not just a dream any more – exciting times! :-)

Ian Roberts

Pop Up Chat Together

Our own Outreach Officer Ian Roberts took the opportunity to go to his first “Pop Up Chat together” last Saturday, not only did he use this opportunity to promote our work. Ian shares his experience with you here…

This is an event held on the first Saturday of each month from 11:00 until 13:00 at Optimum Joy, 81 Wyle Cop, Shrewsbury, SY1 1UT.

You don’t have to stay for the whole two hours – you can pop in and out as you wish.

It is a chance for people with mental health issues, and others, to meet up and have conversations with friendly folk – the chat doesn’t have to be about mental health – it can be about anything at all !

Pop Up Chat Together basically provides an opportunity to meet up with friendly and understanding people of all ages over tea, coffee or whatever – and maybe make some new friends into the bargain.

It isn’t a group in the formal sense at all – there isn’t a membership requirement; there isn’t an agenda or anything like that; no guest speakers – it is just a chance to get together and have a good old chinwag.

I attended for the first time on Saturday 1st November and really enjoyed it – the only person I knew before I went was Jim Hawkins.

I was talking to two Young Health Champions and another young chap and I also spoke briefly to a few other people.

There were quite a few there – over 20 – and it was the largest attendance out of five Pop Up Chats.

I hope to attend the next one on Saturday 6th December – hope others will join me.


Ian Roberts

SDN Outreach Officer – Telford