Category Archives: Blog

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Wheel’s Wonderings contributor is written Ian Pugh a disabled teenager living In Shrewsbury.

kelda boat 250-253

A Week without tears…well nearly!

I got all excited when I came to write this thinking I’d actually managed a week without crying….but I’d forgotten about Monday!

Monday was actually my birthday, but of course that doesn’t mean we stop training, and I had my usual 4am start to get to Nottingham. However, the traffic obviously didn’t appreciate it was my birthday, and I had the most horrendous journey missing the session with my group. This meant I had to join in with the second group which includes some of the strongest paddlers in the squad. This meant I was left behind after every effort….making me feel like I was just going very slow! Of course, being the perfectionist I am, this really frustrated me, so I came off the water feeling grumpy, frustrated….and a pretty useless paddler. Now normally I would’ve just thought logically about this and realised the guys I was paddling about were all men who were much more experienced than me….but not today!

Because I was late I then ran out of time to catch up on emails, but did quickly flick though to see there was a whole load of forms that needed filling out for my athlete funding….which included details which I’d left at home…the stress continued to rise! Before I knew it we were back on the water for our first “starts” session since before Christmas. My first few starts were pathetic to say the least…the tears nearly came then! Thankfully the session picked up.

After spending the next couple of hours form filling, it was time for food and bed. I decided that it had been a bad enough day, and seeing as it was my birthday, I’d treat myself to a Chinese (not the behaviour of a dedicated athlete I know!)

The Chinese was shut!

So I spent my birthday sat in my camping pod eating a packet of Revels (again not the behaviour of a dedicated athlete!) watching a DVD on my laptop. I reckon I was allowed a few tears!

Apart from that, it’s been a challenging but good week. I’ve struggled to keep all the balls in the air, what with training, the Climbing Out Charity Evening and a lot of the organising for this year’s Climbing Out programmes needing sorting out now….but it’s all part of the learning curve and it’s something I’m going to have to get better at managing.

I’ve had good days and bad days on the water….and I feel like I’ve really pushed things in the gym. I’m still struggling to get my weights up any further, and after hitting a wall while doing what seemed like a hundred reps of bench press, Luke our strength and conditioning coach told me I couldn’t rack the weight and sometimes it was good to get into a hole that you felt like you couldn’t get out of. I eventually managed to get the bar up (after much grimacing and some very unladylike language) but I haven’t been able to feel my arms since then! Again, all part of the learning curve I guess!

I’ve got a light week next week as I’m working at Battle Back. It’ll be a challenge for me to back of training, but hopefully it’ll mean I’ll be back at Nottingham a week on Monday feeling fresh and strong….and ready to smash that bench press!!!

kelda wood 250 253

I’m fascinated by the sports psychology side of things

 I feel like there’s been some pretty massive steps forward this week. We still haven’t managed to get on the water much because of the weather conditions, but when we did, I could feel some huge improvements! The training programme has been pretty punishing…..there wasn’t a muscle in my body that wasn’t hurting by the end of the week! The focus has now moved from strength and power to speed, so we’re doing some pretty harsh lactic sessions….but this is what I love about the sport – you work hard and the gains start to happen!:-)

It’s been such a great week of learning’s. The ergo sessions are really helping me with my technique. Firstly I can sit in front of a mirror and see first hand what I’m doing, secondly Matt, my coach, can really break down each part of the stroke and work on the finer points, and thirdly, I can try things out without having to worry about falling in! We’ve been really working on getting me to relax my shoulders (something that I haven’t done for the last 40 years!), and the impact on my paddling has been exciting. My focus now has got to be on maintaining this technique but applying more power and pace…it sounds so straight forward when I put it like that!

I also had my first proper session with the team psychologist this week too. I’m fascinated by the sports psychology side of things and it will be really interesting to see the impact it has on my performance.

I’m lifting more weight in the gym, the technique is improving on the water…and I can’t wait until we start racing again and I can hopefully see some big improvements in my times. Roll on April!

The challenge this week has been balancing training around Climbing Out. As we start to approach the spring, things start getting pretty hectic. We’ve 5 programmes planned this year, 2 weekends and several fund raising events, the first of which is our “Evening with Climbing Out” on March 14th. Trying to focus on training and still organise everything that needs doing has resulted in a bit of brain fry this week:-( The answer…..well the honest truth is, I don’t know! Both things are so important to me and I don’t want to let myself, or anyone else down, but there are only 24hrs in the day! I think we’ll call this challenge work in progress!

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Living with Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration, a personal journey.

November last year SDN Management Committee Member started a blog on living with Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration (Wet AMD) now Ian shares more with us on his personal journey. 

What causes AMD ? 

The causes are basically a combination of genetic reasons, environment and age.

Particular risk factors are- getting older

                                   – gender

                                   – family history of AMD

                                   – smoking

                                   – sunlight

                                   – poor diet

                                   – high blood pressure

                                   – being overweight

Looking at these risk factors in my own case, the situation is like this – 

Getting older

I am actually quite young to get AMD (if anybody says they find it hard to believe I am too young for anything, there will be trouble:-) Broadly speaking, AMD generally occurs in people over the age of 65, although it can develop in people who are in their 40s and 50s- as it did with me. 


More women have AMD than men, but that may be because women tend to live longer than men. 

Family history of AMD

As far as I know, there isn’t any in my case. Some genes have been identified that may link to the development of AMD in some people. This has been discovered by looking at families with more than one member who has AMD, but it is thought that not all AMD is inherited. 


I haven’t smoked for many, many years and when I did smoke, it was only ever a few cigarettes a day. Smoking greatly increases the risk of developing AMD.

Studies show that stopping smoking can reduce the risk of developing AMD. 


Some studies suggest that exposure to high levels of sunlight (particularly the UV light contained in sunlight) throughout your life may increase the risk of developing AMD. As yet, there is no proof of this. Wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from the UV light in sunlight is a good idea for everyone throughout their life. 

Poor diet

Depends on what you class as a poor diet, but that could be a whole new topic for a blog! My own opinion on the five a day situation is that nobody ever proved that five portions of fruit and vegetables a day was the optimum number.

I understand that current opinion is that five isn’t enough anyway- seven is it now?

Having said that, I don’t eat a balanced diet and that is something I should indeed address I must admit- not enough fresh fruit and vegetables (whatever the number of portions!), too much red meat etc.

A number of studies have looked at diet as a risk factor for someone developing AMD., but presently there is no agreement on how much of a risk factor diet is.

There is some evidence that vitamins A, C E and zinc may help to slow the progress of AMD in people who already have the condition. 

High blood pressure

Yes- that’s me!

Am on a variety of tablets for this. On occasions, my blood pressure has been sky high and (whatever the first figure is for) it once topped 200!)It is more or less within normal limits now, although it has always been a bit on the high side of normal for me. 

Being overweight   

Ok I will cough to this one- even I must admit that I am not exactly Twiggy size!

Kelda oar 250-253

It’s an exciting year, but I’m under no illusions that there’s a lot of hard work to do if I’m going to achieve my aims…

It’s been great to get back training after a bit of a break over Christmas. We’ve straight back into it with performance testing taking place on Monday and Tuesday. This involves 2 days of hard graft testing all areas of strength and fitness including bench pulls, pulls ups, press ups etc, plus cardio testing on the ergos. There’s also a psyche assessment with the team psychologist. The testing highlighted some of my own strengths and weaknesses and has given me some real focus on what I need to work hard on before the next testing in March.

Things are going to come round really quick now we’re into 2015. After the testing in March we’ve got the first Regatta in April, which is also the selections for the Europeans at the end of April. There’s also a World Cup in May and the World Championships in August. It’s an exciting year, but I’m under no illusions that there’s a lot of hard work to do if I’m going to achieve what I’m aiming for this year. Bring it on!!!

We’ve struggled to get on the water this week because of the high winds, so we’ve done a lot of work on the ergos. This has been really good for me as I’ve been able to focus on my technique….I’ve also had a mirror in front of me, so I’ve been able to see exactly what I’m doing wrong! Here’s hoping I can put everything I’ve learnt into play when we get back out on the water next week. Fingers crossed we have a week of better weather!

It’s time for some hard work, a good amount of sweat and tears….and hopefully it’ll all pay off come April!

Helen Feedman

Looking Back at 2014

New Year is normally a time to look ahead and be excited about the future. But as I finish my last month in my role at the County Sports Partnership I can’t help to also look back to 2014 and reflect on how much we have achieved. It’s hard to believe that it was only April 2014 that I first offered to write a blog for SDN (Ruby had long been asking me). My aim was to give members a flavour of what the County Sports Partnership do. After all, as the infrastructure partnership for sport and physical activity and the forum of interest within the Voluntary and Community Sector our strap line is ‘Getting Hearts Beating Faster’ and by that we mean everybody. We’d previously identified that fewer disabled people in Shropshire were taking part in sport and physical activities and we wanted to change this. By creating a strong partnership with SDN and thanks to the Shropshire Providers Consortium bid to the Big Lottery, Shropshire now has its very own Inclusion Officer!!

And so it is with great excitement that I hand over the reins to Jess. I’m really looking forward to receiving future editions of “Your Voice” and reading case studies of how this project has changed people’s lives – because I have no doubt it has the potential to do so. I’m also looking forward to running the London Marathon for Shropshire Disability Network. I’ve had to delay my 2015 entry until 2016 since I’m expecting a baby girl in mid March. However, I look forward to starting my training after a short break following her birth and will no doubt let you know how it’s going ahead of the big day in April 2016! I’ve never done a marathon, so the prospect seems VERY daunting right now!! A final big thanks to RUBY for her support and enthusiasm towards me over the last few years, you truly are inspirational!


Helen Freedman

Senior Business Manager

Energize Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin

Kelda oar 250-253

Kelda writes I got confirmation on Thursday that I am being put on the British Canoeing Podium Potential Programme

It was good to have a bit of energy back this week and to be able to get stuck into the training sessions again. There’s been some good days when I’ve felt really strong, and some not so good days when I’ve got really frustrated….but I guess it’ll always be a bit like that, and dealing with the frustrations is part of the challenge. The weather hasn’t help, and I got another very cold dunking on Friday when I got caught by a strong gust of wind.

The cold doesn’t help my ankle either and I’ve been in a fair bit of pain this week. This hasn’t helped things in the boat as I end up feeling pretty uneven. We’re looking into changing some adaptation’s in the boat to try and help things, and we’ve also changed my technique a bit to try and get the power from my hips rather than my feet. Once I grasp it this should hopefully make quite a big difference, but it’s always a challenge getting used to changes.

It’s been a significant week this week, as I got confirmation on Thursday that I’m being put on the British Canoeing Podium Potential Programme. This is really exciting news and means I’ll now get some funding through UK Sport. I’m incredibly grateful to UK Sport for their support and this will have a huge impact on my training. It’s great to move into 2015 with this in place.

I’ve also been asked this week to get involved with the Sporting Champions programme through “Get Inspired”, which similar to the Energize project, it will involve going into schools and working with young people to try and encourage and inspire them to participate in sport. As I’ve said before, this is something I’m incredibly passionate about, having experienced first hand, both through my work and through my own personal journey, the huge part sport can play on an individual’s confidence and development, so I’m really looking forward to getting involved with the programme.

At this time of year, I’d really like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported me and helped make everything that’s happened so far possible. To Marton pool for allowing me to train on their lake when I’m home in Shropshire, to The Holme Perriepont Leisure Trust for their support of my accommodation, to The Shropshire Community Leisure Trust for providing me access to the Shrewsbury Sports Village and their facilities, to Marc Woods for his invaluable advice and support and to the coaches at GB Canoeing and all the other athletes for providing me with the most amazing opportunity and giving me just the best time of my life!

Last week was another special week for Climbing Out too. Kevin Gledhill is a gentleman I met earlier in the year, he is an incredible man, who has sadly been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He has set up a trust fund to support a Climbing Out programme a year for the foreseeable future. These programmes will be his legacy.

I was lucky enough to attend Kevin’s 60th Birthday last weekend, where Kevin asked everyone to donate to Climbing Out instead of buying him presents. The generosity of everyone was overwhelming, and the total raised so far stands at just under £5,000! The huge support shown is testament to just what a special man Kevin is.

So all that’s left to say is a huge Happy Christmas to everyone. Mine won’t be filled with too much eating and drinking (we’ve got performance testing on the 5thJanuary so there’s no time for slacking!) but hopefully there’ll still be lots of merriment. Here’s to an awesome 2015!!

Happy Christmas!:-)

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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!:-)