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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

…..We may have had a break through!!





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

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

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

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

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

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

to relax muscles minimising the risk of injury.

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

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

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

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

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

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



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Kelda writes 4 Golds, 1 Silver and a Bronze

Kelda writes 4 Golds, 1 Silver and a Bronze

The squad have had a pretty impressive time at the European Championships this week, coming home with 4 Gold medals, a silver and a bronze. This is a great result and pays testimony to all the hard work the athletes and coaches have put in over the winter…it’s also is a great step towards Rio in 2016!

For me it’s been the first week that I’ve been back into somewhere near full training. It’s been great and I’ve worked hard…and things are so far so good with the rib! I’m feeling really strong on the water, but I’ve lost a lot of my speed. I know this will come back, but it’s really frustrating as things are feeling so good, yet my times aren’t getting any faster! I’m slightly concerned as I’ve got my first race this coming Saturday, but I have to accept that this hasn’t been the ideal preparation and it’s all about putting in a solid performance and giving it my best.

We’ve then got just a week until we leave for the World cup so it’s all starting to happen…..time to stay focused, work hard and believe!!!!

The Climbing out programmes get under way at the end of May too and it’ll be great to get things started for 2015. We’ve got 13 young people all in recovery from cancer coming on the programme running in the Lake District, and I’m looking forward to seeing all the incredibly achievements that I know will happen through the week.

So by this time next week I’ll have completed my first races of the season…I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a new PB (personal best) and a solid performance that will set me up for the World Cup in Duisburg…..

Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man…..sooner or later, the man who wins, is the one who thinks he can”


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TelfordUCare Updates us on what they are doing for Carers…

A while back we told you about the work that AFC Telford United are doing to engage with Carers. In 2013 they launched TelfordUCare. Recently Ruby together with SDN members John Morris & Chris Alvis were invited to AFC Telford United Presentation Evening. Ruby took opportunity to ask Amanda White lead Carers Champion for an update.

Amanda tells us..

 TelfordUcare is a scheme run by volunteers at AFC Telford United in Wellington. The scheme supports those who need physical help (whether permanent or temporary), anyone who attends with their carer, or is a carer themselves. We support both home and visiting fans, providing everything from lap blankets and mobility aids, to tea runs and company. If you should need us, just look for the ladies in pink!

Over the last two seasons we have been fortunate to receive a small amount of funding from the NHS, and have partly used this to provide tickets to events at the football club, enabling our guests to experience events that would have been difficult for if when they have to pay for a carer to support themselves or the person they care for.

The photo is of Anna Parrish, many will know her at AFC Telford United for her sunny smile and quick sense of humour. Even more people will know her for her kindness and willingness to help. Many of our supporters are aware of the public face of the scheme (Amanda White), but Anna has so far declined to take part in the publicity as she is camara shy! Anna joined the TelfordUcare scheme at the beginning of this season as a second team member, and has taken on her role whole heartedly. Many of our supporters are aware of the public face of the scheme (Amanda White), but Anna has so far declined to take part in the publicity as she is picture shy!

This last season has seen few successes on the field, but many in the terraces (such as the community coaching team recruiting Sean Clancey, and the development of the “Family Stand”), as our team is now due to expand. Mary Et, who has been a long-time volunteer at AFC Telford United is moving across from stewarding, to an active role within TelfordUcare. We are very pleased to have her aboard.

Although the exact ticket prices have yet to be confirmed for the coming season, we can confirm that disabled fans can still attend games for the “concession” price, and accompanying carers are free. Please enter by the corner gate and speak to a steward. Parking for Blue badge holders is free, once again, please speak to a steward.

TelfordUcare can be contacted on Twitter @TelfordUcare.


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Kelda writes -A week of frustrations….but exciting news my Mare…

It been a week of frustrations as we tried to get the foot plate right in my boat….I felt I was wasting so many sessions! However, Thursday afternoon we seemed to crack it and it feels BLOOMIN’ AWESOME!!! It’ll take a bit of adjusting to, but there feels like there’s soooo much potential. It’s exciting!

I’ve felt strong in the gym, and I’ve been working hard on my rehab and CV…there’s still a long way to go, but one step at a time…as long as those steps are in the right direction things are good!! I’ve had quite a wobble getting my head around the fact that I’m not going to be fully prepared or fit for either the May regatta or the World Cup. It’s going to be quite a challenge for me to cope with potentially not being able to deliver what I’d like to deliver…but it will be a great learning for me if I can manage my “head”.

I also know how I can step up to the mark when I need to…I’ve got a week on my own this week to really process everything and work hard. I still truly believe I can come out with a strong performance at the May regatta…I’ve then got another week after that to consolidate everything before the World Cup. I’m looking forward to it.

The rest of the squad are off to the Europeans this weekend….I wish I was part of the team, but hey, I’ll use that to motivate me and keep driving me to work harder! Good luck to all the guys competing, this is our first real stepping stone to Rio, so I know we’ll show the opposition that we’re coming out strong!

I also became a grandma this week!!…..My mare had a chestnut filly foal on Tuesday morning. Not quite what I’d planned, as I was keeping everything crossed for a colt(male), but everything happens for a reason and I’m getting my head around a plan B now. She was born on the Queens birthday and the week that the legend jump jockey AP McCoy retired, so she’s sharing an important week with some strong people….maybe that’s a sign for the future!


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Sam updates us on her personal journey to have an Assistance Dog

Hi everyone,

This is the second instalment of my blog about my journey towards getting an assistance dog. I have not got any further in doing fund-raising, as I have been busy with a course with the prince’s trust and volunteering.

However, I have thought further on some of the things an assistance dog could do to support me. I find it hard to wake up in the mornings as I’m often tired, and tend to fall back asleep unless I am being prompted. An assistance dog would be able to wake me up if I set an alarm by pawing at me. Having an assistance dog would also mean I will sleep better, as the weight of the dog on the bed, research has been shown helps the sleep pattern of people with autism, similar to the effects of a weighted blanket.

The dog would generally help with anxiety whilst out and about, and help with transitions to get to and from places by centring me and reducing my anxiety while I’m travelling by train and bus.

He would also be trained to provide a barrier between me and other people, so that I don’t get too overwhelmed in crowds. Generally I feel an assistance dog would improve my mood and give me a sense of purpose.

By the time I do my third blog, I hope to have got further in the logistics of how to fund my dog.

Thanks for reading,



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Kelda writes -Well the great news this week is the International Panel agreed to…

World Cup Selection

Well, the great news this week is that the International Panel agreed to let me compete at the World Cup, despite being unable to race at the selection regatta last weekend. This means that later in May I’ll be going out to Duisburg in Germany to compete in my first International representing GB. I’ve still got a huge amount of work to do, but this will fulfil a dream I’ve had since childhood and will be my first major step towards Rio next year. Exciting times!

The pressure is on a little now….but in a good way. I’m still having to manage the stress fracture to my rib. I’ve made progress this week and we’re starting to increase the training load again. So far so good! I did have a slight wobble during the week…having started to join in sessions with the rest of the squad again, I realised just how far I’ve fallen behind them all in the time I’ve been injured. I know I’ll get my strength and speed back pretty quickly, but it knocked me quite a bit when I couldn’t keep up with them! However, wobbles are OK and only to be expected….the challenge is using them to motivate and drive you forwards, and not to set you back.

So, I had to take rein check, put things in perspective….then work even harder! I did a couple of 200m on Friday, the first time I’ve done this since my injury. There’s so much still to work on, but I was pleased to be just 1 second off my PB even though I was just working at a threshold pace. (OK, so my PB was from last year when I was still just focusing on not falling in, but hey, we’ve got to take the positives from all this!)

I’ve also lost 13mm in my skin-folds, so all those killer sessions on the bike are paying off!

The squad are off to the Europeans at the end of the week. They’ve worked so hard all winter so it’d be fantastic to see them come back with a good haul of medals! In the meantime, I’ve got 4 weeks to get my head down, work hard and make sure I can go out to the World Cup and be the best I possibly can be….time to show them what I’m made of!


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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!”