Kelda Writes..What a Team! What a Performance!

Kelda writes..What a Team! What a Performance!


Yesterday saw my Paracanoe Team mates secure 3 Gold and 2 Bronze medals at the Paralympic Games in Rio. I was so, so proud to watch each and every one of them deliver the performance of their lives, and I know how much they’ve all given to the sport to make those results possible.

To be honest, I watched the racing with mixed emotions. It was a complete privilege to have been part of the journey and to have trained along side such an incredible team. But yes, of course I wish I’d been there! I have complete admiration for every one of my team mates for delivering such incredible performances out in Rio, and I know how much it meant to them all. Awesome paddling guys!!



The Games have been a huge learning experience for me, watching people achieve their dreams,  and watching some people have their dreams come crashing down. What’s stood out for me, is the fact that we really can’t define people by the medal around their necks. The difference between success and failure can often be the matter of 100th’s of a second….but the same commitment, training, sacrifice and dedication has been part of every athlete’s life, no matter what the result.

For me, it’s taught me that it really is about being the best person you can be….living by your values and treating people with respect. It’s been such an amazing achievement for all of the guys out at the Paralympics, and every medal won is so well deserved, but I’ve come away with as much respect and admiration for every single competitor, not just those that have achieved Gold.


It’s also shown me that life is very much about living for every moment and grabbing every opportunity. I’ll admit, I was gutted when I missed out on selection for Rio, and the following few months were tough as I tried to find my identity again. But it’s amazing what opportunities can come along when we least expect them…..Tomorrow I’m off to Chamonix to take part in a training weekend with the Adaptive Grand Slam Team. The team are aiming to complete the mountaineering Grand Slam, that’s the 7 highest peaks in 7 continents, plus the North Pole and South Pole. They’re aiming to do this with an adaptive team….the first time this has ever been done.


The aims and values of the team fall completely in line with my own values, and this feels like the most amazing opportunity. Although there’s no guarantee I’ll be part of the team for further expeditions, I’m excited about the challenge, I’m so looking forward to working with the incredible team….and I’m left wondering about what adventures lie around the corner.


And none of this would’ve happened if I’d been selected for Rio!!


You see, it’s all just part of the journey….you never know what’s around the corner, you never know where things will lead, but as long as you keep looking forwards and don’t spend all your time looking in the rear view mirror, then good things will come.


Everything really does happen for a reason!


We salute all who have taken part in Paralympics Rio 2016




Severndale Specialist School

Kay Kelly, Partner & Head of Clinical Negligence at Lanyon Bowdler acts regularly for children who suffer from brain injury & movement control problems. Kay was delighted to have the opportunity to look around Severndale Specialist School Shrewsbury.

Click here to read Kay’s blog

Thanking Lanyon Bowdler (SDN sponsor) for giving us permission to share this blog with you.

Jo & Jess

Jo shares her experience of being a Mother, Carer

Jo, Mother of Jess shares the up’s and down’s of being a parent bringing up a child with learning difficulties. Would she change things?  SDN, thanks Jo for sharing with us. Jo writes-

“I am a mother, so are many other women. When you become a parent the whole world turns upside down and will never be the same again. This little human being put into your arms is yours, they didn’t ask to be born you created them and from that moment on you will be there for them no matter what. The love you have for them is like no other, sometimes it hurts you love them so much.

As they grow up, you nurture them, hopefully help them to understand the world we live in is sometimes good, sometimes not so good. You watch them become a person in their own right, become confident and go out into the world to create a life they want and no matter what they achieve, however big or small, you are so proud of them.

But sometimes things don’t go to plan and that little form put into your arms is going to need a bit more help to get to that same place. Why? They are disabled and life becomes even more topsy turvy, for them and you!

There is anger, fear, exhaustion, frustration. But there is also joy, laughter, and determination. But the things that really stand out. How it changes your life, the constant fight from day to day 24/7, and then there is the guilt!

I am privileged and proud to be mum of two wonderful children. Tom now happily married and given me two beautiful grandsons, but I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say some of his early days were somewhat challenging. But he has brought so much joy, fun and love into my life.

I have also have a daughter, Jess!

Where do I start? My daughter now 32, has changed my life and that of my family for the better. She was born fighting, has never stopped, and that has rubbed off on me. I wouldn’t change her for the world, her love of life, her determination, her energy and her great big smile which if we could bottle and sell, we would be millionaires! But I would change the system around her as life is one big battering ram and yes, I feel like giving up and have nearly done so many times but I never will as I am determined until the day I die I will fight to make sure Jess and those like her are protected and safe when I am no longer here!

At 12 days old Jess went through major heart surgery, given a 50-50 chance of surviving that and the first year. After weeks of 2 hourly spoon feeding and another 3 years of trying to encourage her to eat she was on her way. But at the age of two we knew something wasn’t quite right and she was diagnosed with learning disabilities. Then I noticed that her tiny little feet weren’t looking quite right and she was walking on tiptoes. For the next 5 years she wore splints which helped to a certain extent, but during this time was diagnosed with a degenerative foot condition, which will mean she will become a wheelchair user as time goes on. I will always remember the day that splints came off for good “Mum they hurt so much!” never once had she complained.

Then there was the year long battle to get Jess statemented so she could move to a special school where she blossomed. Leaving there at 19 Jess went away to college for 3 years on her return home Jess announced “I don’t want to live at home can I have a flat?” We thought life had been hard with the constant assessments, reviews, negativity and lack of support, it now trebled! Having gone through the removal of cataracts on both eyes it was another year before Jess had her first flat!

But the system never left us alone. The goal posts constantly changing and phone calls to ask whether Jess’s disability has improved, oh yes! The forms you have to fill in, find a box to tick that fits Jess’s disability and told if you don’t tick a box Jess won’t get a benefit”.


Next time “Hitting 25, does it get easier or harder”

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Are you Aware of your Loved One’s Rights?

Jemma Jones, Solicitor with Lanyon Bowdler asks “Are you Aware of your Loved One’s Rights? Click on this link, to find out more as Jemma shares information & puts us straight on important issues & considerations when loved ones may need to go into a Care home..

Thank you to our sponsors Lanyon Bowdler for letting us share this blog.

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Care Act 2014 blog by Neil Davies

Last year Neil Davies, Associate Solicitor and Head of the Court of Protection Team with Lanyon Bowdler, Shrewsbury was one of our guest speakers at The Big Care Debate. Just one year on, SDN asks has it made a difference or not?

Click here to read Neil’s Blog giving us an update on the Care Act 2014 

Thank you to Lanyon Bowdler for allowing us to share this blog with our members.

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Kelda writes..I feel a little bit in Limbo

Kelda writes.. I feel a little bit in limbo..

So it’s now been 6 weeks since the selection regatta for Rio, and I’ll be honest, there’s been a mixture of emotions. It’s been amazing watching the 6 athletes selected continue on their journey, their focus, their intensity, their excitement…..but it’s also been quite difficult, as it’s sunk in that this is really happening, and I’m really not part of it.

Every stage of our training plan for the last 2 years has been geared towards Rio, and it’s difficult to find the same motivation and determination now that goal is no longer there.  I always promised myself that I would remain committed to being the best I can be, even if I didn’t get selected, as we still have one more regatta to go in September, and there’s still everything to prove to keep my place on the squad for next year.

But things have changed.

I still give 100% every day in every training session, but sometimes you can’t help but ask the question “why?”

But it’s not all doom and gloom! The one opportunity that has come out of not being selected is the fact that I’ve been able to pick up some of my other work that I’d put on hold for the last 12 months while I focused on selection.

Climbing Out is growing at a rate of knots and our first programme of the year takes place at the beginning of August. It really does feel fantastic to be putting time and effort back into the charity and the young people that get so much out of the work that we do.

I’ve also been back at The Battleback Centre as a member of the coaching team which is always so rewarding, and I’ve been travelling up and down the country with my motivational speaking. All of this is amazing work and I feel privileged to get to meet so many incredible people.

But it’s left me wondering exactly who I am…..for the last 18 months I’ve been an athlete, and I’ve known exactly what I’ve been aiming for. But suddenly that goal, for now, has gone, and I feel a little bit in limbo.

I can’t wait to see my team mates smash it up in Rio….and I know they will. But there is a part of me that’s going to be watching wishing I was there instead!

I guess sometimes there’s a period in our lives where we just have to put our head down and keep going….it’d be unrealistic to think life can be amazing 100% of the time. I certainly don’t want this to be the end of the journey, so I’m trying to see this as just the part where I’m stuck in a bit of a traffic jam!

The challenge is to keep going and not give up…..and I will always accept the challenge!


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Kelda writes “Down but not Out…”

Kelda writes “Down but not out!”

So this is the moment I’ve been waiting to come for the last 2 years…to tell you whether I gor selected for Rio Paralympics or not!

But first, I think it’s important to tell you a little of what happened…

As you’ll know if you’ve read some of my previous blogs, this hasn’t been the smoothest of journeys. I’ve always tried to be open & honest with what I’ve written, for me the whole point in this blog is to show that often the things that matter the most to us, are the hardest things to achieve…but the important thing is to keep trying, never give up, to never be afraid of failure and to always be the best person you can possibly be.

So the week before the final selections I struggled to stand by all those things that I’ve said! But hey, we’re all human…something that I think goes hand in hand with all the positivity, is to be kind to yourself. We’re all allowed a bad day! And boy I was having a bad day!! The day before the selections I just let it all get on top of me. And the thing that upset me the most was the fact that this was the day we’d been focusing on for the last 2 years, and here was me wishing I wasn’t even there! It just wasn’t meant to be like this!!

But sometimes I think we have to accept that when things really matter to us we’re going to get emotional. Actually it’s a good thing, because it shows just how much we care.

And I woke up in a different place the next morning. I was ready to get out there & give it everything! But the difference in my attitude was this… I recognised I had a big challenge ahead, I had to beat the current World Champion if I was going to get selected, so the only thing I could do was get out there, give it my absolute best, and as long as I did that, the outcome would take care of itself. I just wanted to deliver the best race I knew I was capable of, and yo stay true to the person I wanted to be, If I did that I would be happy, whether I got selected or not.

And I delivered… I didn’t manage to beat the World Champion, so I won’t be on that plane to Rio, but I hit a personal best in both races ^ managed to go sub 54 seconds for the very first time.

And I am happy. I know I paddled the best race I possibly could & I was beaten by a better paddler on the day. Anne Dickens is World Champion & beat me by over 2 seconds, she is without doubt the boat to go to Rio & I am excited to see what she will do at the Games. As I told her after we finished the race “You just better make sure you get out there and win Gold now” No pressure Anne!

Rio 2016

It was the most incredible day, with so much emotion and passion from all the other athletes. I feel lucky and proud to have had the opportunity to experience being part of it, How special is it going to be able to watch my team mates competing out in Rio and I am genuinely excited to see what they will do. 6 incredible athletes have been selected who are going to do Team GB proud!

And before you all think that’s me done and dusted….no chance!!!! What last week showed me is that right now I’m just not ready to be a Paralympic paddler. It was 2 years to the days since I paddled in my first race…. and the it was all about trying to go in a straight line and not fall in!! So I see this as just a stepping stone in the journey. My focus now turns to the next 2 regattas we have left this season and then it’ll be next year with the aim of getting selected for the World & European Championships


And in 4 years time, who knows, I might be quite good…

Tokyo here we come!!!!








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Kelda Writes “It’s all about how we choose to see things.” ….

Kelda writes “It’s all about how we choose to see things…

kelda blog


When I look back over the last few weeks, I can see it through two very different pairs of eyes…and I’ve had to realise it’s my choice which pair I decide to look through. So I had to take some time before I started writing this blog, to work out the choice I wanted to make…because the easy choice isn’t always the right choice.

So last week I came back from competing in my first World Championships. I finished 10th overall, only just missing out on a place in the final & hitting an official Personal Best (PB). So was this a success or  a failure…

And here’s where the choice comes in.

So looking at the bigger Paralympian picture, this wasn’t a great result. I was a long way out of the medals, and with Anne Dickens, the GB first boat, laying down an impressive performance to win Gold, the chances of me getting selected for Rio are looking pretty slim.

For  me personally, I paddled well, I hit a PB, and I learnt so much from the experience. I know I’ve come away a better paddler…and I know there’s still so much more to come from me before I’m done!!

So the easy choice would be to see this as a negative & to grumble about “if only” this and “if only” that. But where would that get me! I’d probably want to walk away from the sport and feel like I’d failed. So this is how I’m choosing to see it… it was an amazing experience and I was so proud to be out there and to be part of an incredible squad. Yes, it was disappointing when I look at it in the context of Rio, but I gave it everything I had, and I need to accept that wasn’t good enough then it’s all part of my paddling journey. I might not have achieved the result I wanted but I can be proud that I gave it every bean that I had. I need to take the positives, learn from the experience and stay committed to achieving what I believe I am capable of.

I know there’s still a stronger, faster athlete in me, and it’s now it’s just a case of resetting the goals, and giving me a bit of time to find her!

And it’s not over yet! It now all comes down to the 4th June, the final selection regatta for the Games. It’s going to be a challenge, but I’ll be sat on that start line on Satirday ready to give it my all!

Team mate Rob Oliver, summed things up perfectly…

“We all train hard!

We all put everything into our sport!

We all deserve to go but only 1 can… this is going to be very very special on the 4th!!”

It’s been the most amazing journey and I know, whatever the outcome, I’ve given my absolute best.

So, the choice I am making ….to smile, enjoy and be proud, to appreciate the journey and to keep looking forwards. After all Tokyo’s only 4 years away!!!!!!


Just another quick post….3rd June 2016

So tomorrow is the final selection regatta for the Paralympics, and everything I’ve been working so hard for over the last 2 years all comes down to these 2 races.

The support everyone has given me has been priceless, and I will value and appreciate every bit of it long after the Paralympics are over.

I’ve learnt so much and I hope others have got something out of being part of the journey too. More than anything, I’ve learnt, and I hope maybe others have too, that it’s not always the winning that’s the most important thing, but giving things a go, not bring afraid of failure and just being the best person you can possibly be:)

After that anything else is just the icing on the cake.

So tomorrow I’m gonna get out there and try and get myself some icing….but whatever happens, I’ve still got a great cake!!!!




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Kelda writes..He (or she) who looks backwards, stumbles when moving forwards….

Kelda writes  He (or she) who looks backwards, stumbles when moving forwards….

The last 2 weeks have been, what can only be called a roller coaster!

I’ve thought long and hard about what I wanted to write in this blog… times I’ve wanted to shout, rant and blame, at times I’ve wanted to moan about how unfair life is, at times I’ve wanted to say how strong I feel….and at times I’ve wanted to say how bloomin’ weak I feel!

So I’m going to say none of them!!!! Because the last 2 weeks have just been part of the journey….. I’ve learnt about myself and I’ve learnt about other people. Two weeks ago I completed in the selection regatta for the 2016 World Championships I paddled 2 strong races, it wasn’t an outstanding performance, but I was happy with the improvement it showed. Having just missed out on the time that guaranteed selection, I hoped iit showed enough potential for them to still select me for the World Championships, and keep me in the game for Rio.

Unfortunately it wasn’t to be. On the Monday morning I received a phone call that told me I hadn’t been selected. I was devastated. Not only did I feel that I’d done enough to deserve to be selected, but this meant my paralympic dream was over. It also meant they were leaving the squad without a reserve boat for Rio in my category, which I just couldn’t understand. The whole thing felt wrong.

So I decided to appeal.

To cut a very long story short, the appeal went to an arbitral panel and the decision was thankfully over turned. In 3 weeks time I’m now off to the World Championships in Duisburg, and most importantly, I’m still in with a shot at Rio!

There’s a lot I could say….but I’m choosing not to. Because what’s important now is looking forwards. I’ve been given an opportunity and I intend to grab it with both hands and give it my very, very best!

Last week I was guest speaker at the Shropshire Partners in Care Awards, and I had to really question just what I was going to say to everyone….or if I could even get up and speak at all! I was really questioning how much I believed the values that I’ve always stood by. Could I really stand up and inspire others, if I didn’t believe what I was saying myself! But in reflecting about what and how I would speak, I really learned something very important.

We become so focused on the outcome, but things so often happen that are out of our control…so it really is about being the best person you can be, whether that be in a training session, in how we behave, or how we treat others. This has taught me something amazing….that actually my journey is about being the best person I can be, and being happy with myself, and not just about that Gold medal!

The magic of the last 2 weeks has been the incredible support I’ve received from some amazing friends. It has meant so much to me to feel the love and support of so many people. I’ve learnt that in time, I’ll look back on this whole chapter and realise that, no matter what the outcome, the truly special thing about it all is how I’ve learnt to value and appreciate myself and the amazing people around me. It is not a gold medal that will define me, but how I choose to live my life.

And right now, I’m choosing to appreciate every day, every training sessions and every part of this whole journey. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to attack every day with grit and determination, but as long as I give my very best, I’m going to hold my head up high, be proud and learn to be happy with myself.

If I’m going to define myself as a paracanoeist – and maybe even as a person – based on whether I’ve paddled in the Paralympics or won gold medals, I’ve realised I’m devaluing myself. And as for anyone else who judges me on that? I probably don’t need to worry about their opinion that much anyway! Instead, I’m going to focus on enjoying myself, appreciating the people around me and pushing myself to be better, in and out of a boat.

That is what I want to define me.


Quirk and Kelly with Kelda

Kelda writes Breath, Relax…..and be Strong!!

I always anticipated that this journey would be full of ups and downs, but the last few weeks have surpassed any expectations I could’ve had!

2 weeks ago we had our final performance testing before the Games, and although I’d made some improvements, I didn’t show the big gains I was hoping for. However, I’ve been working hard on increasing my intensity and aggression, and when it came to the time trials on the water last Saturday I was confident I would deliver what was needed.

Phil Quirk and Phil Kelly with Kelda

Phil Quirk and Phil Kelly with Kelda

It was a windy day, but for once we were paddling with a tail wind, and I paddled what I felt was the best 200m I had ever done. I was buzzing! Finally I’d delivered the performance that I knew I was capable of…..and then I got my time. 56 seconds. Still slow, still a long way off the time I need to hit!

I was distraught. What else could I do! I’d given it my all, I wasn’t sure if I had anything else left to give. A fair bit of sole searching went on that weekend…..but I didn’t really come up with any answers. I couldn’t even work out what the questions were!

I then had a meeting with my coach. “You’ve just got to work harder” he said. Harder!!!! How can I work any harder! I really felt I had not an ounce more that I could give!

Ok, I’ll admit, I got a bit emotional….some might even say irrational (just for a change!). But I’ve always been a fighter, so I was sure as hell not going to give up! So after putting things into perspective and some fantastic support from the incredible people around me, I started to come up with a plan. I’m very much an actions kind of person, and once I’d started to put this plan together, I began to see a way forward.

And then Thursday happened…..

I’ve mentioned HBP Training before. They’re a performance coaching company who are giving me sponsorship in the form of mental coaching and support. They had a few ideas that they thought might help. So on Thursday I met with Phil Quirk from HBP. He talked me through a few ideas, and recognised that potentially one of the reasons I’m not seeing the gains from the intensive training I’ve been doing, is that I’ve been trying too hard, getting stressed and getting tense….this then has a detrimental effect on my paddling, which makes me more stressed, more tense…and makes me try even harder….and so the cycle continues!

We worked on getting me to relax….the complete opposite of what I thought I needed! I believed I needed to get more aggressive, more intense, paddle harder, paddle faster…..what Phil got me to see, was that actually what I needed to do was relax! If I relaxed then I could allow my body to use the power that’s just sitting waiting to be released!!

It was an amazing session, and I came away confident about the way forwards. One of the best things that Phil said to me was “We’ve got this.”To feel that I wasn’t on my own, that they were there beside me, supporting me to be the best I can be, really did give me a huge amount of confidence…..and I thank them both for giving me that.

The next morning I was sat on the start line, about to do another 200m time trial, and I just said to myself “Relax, we’ve got this”.

Now I can’t say I went out and smashed the World record, but I did paddle considerably better, knocked approximately 2 seconds off my time…..and enjoyed it a whole heap more!

I’m not saying this is going to provide all the answers, but that realization that sometimes when we try too hard, we can actually prevent ourselves from achieving what we’re capable of really will, I hope, give me a different approach to my paddling. The real learning for me is to relax, stay focused, control the controllable and don’t waste valuable energy stressing about things that I can’t control…..then I’ll put myself in the position that the gains can start to happen!

As they say….”Every day’s a school day”, and whether it’s an up or a down, there’s always something to be learnt. Gradually, I’m piecing all those leanings together, and when all those jigsaw pieces finally fit together…..I’m gonna be so fast you won’t even see me coming!!!!:-)