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.

A Dogs Tail by Selkie (Part 1)

We welcome Selkie who has written this blog about her life & how dogs have become her companions & helpers. This is part one of a three part blog. Thank you Selkie for sharing with us.

Although we have had the pleasure of doggy companions for many years, we had we two of our own dogs when the disease struck my daughter and I and turned into chronic illness.

Pre illness I was able to take the dogs for long walks etc., as the illness progressed, so did my difficulties. From the dogs’ point of view, lack of exercise would have been a problem, (my husband was working abroad a lot) but I was lucky enough to have a young friend who also owned a dog and would take all three out for runs. The ‘girls’ (our own dogs) were elderly by then and though they no longer needed long walks, they still needed exercising. The time came when the friend moved away, I then tracked down a dog walking service, which was expensive and the dogs were not at all happy. I would have been in great difficulty at this point; had not a lovely young neighbour taken on the role, and for several years took them to run in the fields for me.

Getting dogs to a Vet I found to be much harder than cats  as my dogs didn’t like vets and didn’t like travelling – so finding someone to take them was very difficult.

From a purely selfish point of view, I adored my ‘old girls’, and their company, their acceptance of me pre-illness and during – also their intelligence saved me from many a mishap!! (For example the one evening – I ‘thought’ I was alert enough to make some toast…wrong…I got distracted…the next thing I was aware of, the ‘girls’, running back and forth, whining and shepherding me into the kitchen, full of smoke and a flame licking out from the grill!!

They also made an instant judgement of my ‘condition’ at any particular time, if I’m having zombie phase, they looked at me and stayed in their beds (and went back to sleep), if the next time I pass them I’m looking alert – then I received a welcome and they jumped up for pats and cuddles (I allow them to jump up, firstly because I enjoy the welcome and secondly – it’s an energy saving/balance saving ploy – because I didn’t have to bend down to pat them. Also during ‘zombie’ phases I could use hand signals with the girls which was extremely useful.

They thoroughly enjoyed snuggling up during ‘splat’ phases, reminded me to give them their breakfast if they haven’t been fed, reminded me it’s treat time at 3 pm, reminded me to eat in the evening, if I had forgotten they whined and stood by the table. Great company and faithful friends, however I am very aware that there were times when I am physically unable to let them out into the garden (for ‘you know what’) – were it not for my husband. We have a wipe clean list on the kitchen wall, and tick off when one of us has fed the dogs, let them out etc.,

Next time: Read how our ‘girl’ trained the newbie in how to welcome “mum” when mum was mobile etc








Lanyon Bowdler

Loss of a Lower Limb-How does a lawyer possibly calculate a case in excess of 1m so quickly?

We were all shocked by the recent accident at Alton Towers and many of us will have thought it a miracle there was no loss of life, however we all know people have suffered life changing injuries. So how could Ms Balch’s lawyer know that her client’s case may be worth in excess of £1m?

Lanyon Bowdler Solicitors & supporters of SDN have offered this blog to us, written by Gayle Kinsey -Solicitor in Personal Injury.  SDN thank Lanyon Bowdler for this & we are pleased to share with our members here.

kelda's blog pics

Kelda writes- 18 amazing young people all in recovery from cancer had the most incredible week…

Well, I haven’t the exciting news I was hoping to tell you…but it’s still good!

18 amazing young people all in recovery from cancer had the most incredible week on last weeks Climbing Out programme and achieved so much more than they could ever have expected. Something magical really does happen on the programmes….to see 2 visually impaired girls merrily throwing themselves off a bridge into the river below showed true trust, friendship ….and shear guts! The support that the young people give each other throughout the week brings something truly special to the programmes and I know many of them will have become life long friends.

It was also fantastic to see 2 of our previous participants returning to volunteer as support staff for the week – and what an amazing job they did too! They really did add something very special to the programme and were a real example and inspiration to the young people. I am very, very proud of them both. Well done to everyone involved over the whole week.

While the young people were up in the Lake district facing all the different challenges the instructors threw at them, I was working hard on my own challenges on the water. I did PB again this week, although only by a fraction of a second…..but hey, I’ll take what I can get at the minute! I’ve still got to get just over a second quicker if I’m going to hit the target I need to hit by September… time to get my head down and just keep paddling!

While the young people were up in the Lake district facing all the different challenges the instructors threw at them, I was working hard on my own challenges on the water. I did PB again this week, although only by a fraction of a second…..but hey, I’ll take what I can get at the minute! I’ve still got to get just over a second quicker if I’m going to hit the target I need to hit by September… time to get my head down and just keep paddling!

The short film that Geoff Ward film and photography very kindly put together for me has now been finished and I must say a big thank you to Geoff for all his efforts. I’m hoping it might now generate some interest in sponsorship – fingers crossed! I’ve included the link below, so hopefully it might give you a bit of a clearer idea exactly what I’m doing too!

I find it all I little embarrassing, but hey, they say God loves a trier….well he must bloomin’ love me!!!

The rest of the squad all leave for the World Championships in Milan next weekend. I’d wish them luck, but I know they don’t need any luck….they’ve all been training so hard, are fighting fit and will be giving it everything to bring back a real medal hall.

GO TEAM GB!!!!!!










Kelda writes- I also have to say a big thank you to Geoff Ward film and Photography….

After the setback of not being selected for the World Championships, I’ve eventually got my head around things, and I’ve come back feeling stronger and more determined than ever.….and it’s working!! I’ve hit a PB (Personal Best) for the last 3 weeks and I’m now just over 1 second off the time I need to hit by September to stay on the pathway to Rio.

It just shows how sometimes, when things don’t work out, it can actually be for the best. Would I have the same fire in my belly if I’d been selected for the Worlds? I really don’t know!

I’m training hard, and pushing myself more than ever – I’ve a point to prove and I’m determined to do that!!! I’ve finally got the weight up on my bench press too!!!! I have to go sub 54 seconds by September to stay on the programme. This is 105% of the Gold Medal time and I believe this time is well within my grasp, ….I’ll be sure to post it here as soon as I achieve it!!:-)

There’s been some developments regarding possible sponsorship too…..I’m trying hard not to get excited, but again, I’ll be posting it here as soon as there’s anything confirmed! The suspense keeps growing!!!!:-)

I also have to say a big thank you to Geoff Ward film and Photography. Geoff kindly offered to put a short promotional film together to help me in my mission of raising the funds to enable me to train full time leading up to the Paralympics next year.

Geoff spent the day on Friday attaching various cameras to by boat, paddle and head(!!) and got some amazing footage. He’s put together a fantastic piece that I think really shows how much this all means to me. I am incredibly grateful to him for his support….there needs to be more people like Geoff in the world!:-)

On top of all of this, it’s been an incredibly busy time for Climbing Out. We’ve got 3 programmes running over 5 weeks working with nearly 50 young people. We’ve been able to offer places to young people in recovery from cancer, kidney disease, and for the first time we’ve been able to offer places to 2 visually impaired girls. It still blows me away to see the impact the programmes have on the young people and the achievements they all make. It is inspiring to see, and the friendship and support they give each other is something very special.

It’s been very strange for me not attending all the programmes this year because of my commitments with training, but we have an awesome team of staff and instructors who are doing an amazing job….such a good job that I’m starting to feel a little unneeded!:-(

I’m hoping for an eventful week….with the Climbing Out programme running in the Lake District with 17 young people in recovery from cancer, news should arrive about the potential sponsorship, the film should be finished and ready for promoting…..and I’ve a time trail on Friday where I have every intention of giving it my all and aiming to get that time of sub 54 seconds!!

Find out if it all happened in my next blog!:-)








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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.









final 1

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…