Saturday, 15 September 2012

Day 133 - Brookfield School 4th Annual Family Fun Run

In Chariots of Fire Eric Liddell, on being asked to speak at an Edinburgh Under 12s athletics event, says something along the lines of: 'the thing about achieving a certain level of notoriety is that you get asked to give things away.' Now, I don't know that I'm quite at the level that he was (even before the 1924 Olympics), but I can say that I felt very privileged today.

I was asked by the organisers of our local primary school's annual fun run if I would declare the race open and help to hand out the medals at the end - and it was lovely. Lovely to see the anticipation on everyone's faces as they waited (very patiently) for me to cut the ribbon. Lovely to witness the way that anticipation morphed, first into effort as they ran, and second into joy as they realised what a huge achievement it was for them all.

Not just because they'd run the 2km to and from the bandstand, through trees and over some tough terrain, supported their teammates and crossed the line, but because many did so in rather intricate costumes (which we judged and found amazing!) and some even with a manual wheelchair in tow! Each and every runner is a winner for me, and the medals you all have around your necks are so very well-deserved.

So many people, parents and children alike, came up to me afterwards to thank me for being at the race - I think they had it the wrong way around. I want to thank them, because it was so inspiring to see everyone having such fun and giving it their best, and I feel so grateful for the reminder that the journey is the most important part of any goal - and that I'm not so far off running myself.

So, here's a thank you to Ali, to Mark and, most of all, to Brookfield Primary School, for welcoming me with such wonderfully open arms - winning is best when it's done together, as the photo below shows:

Sorry it's not very big...

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Day 131 - the summer she learnt to sit alone (again!)

I've just realised how sad that title might seem, if it were figurative and referring to the state of my social life, but it's not - because this has been one superbly social summer. No, it's actually rather literal - I can sit on my own. Big deal, you might scoff, you've always sat unaided; and, if by 'unaided' you mean strapped into a chair with a very supportive backrest and seat, you'd be right.

I don't mean that, though; I mean sitting on a dining chair with my arm resting on the table next to me and feeling perfectly safe.

I mean conquering sciatica, startle and spasm and catching a glimpse of that little girl who used to zoom about the house on a wheely office chair.

I mean the suggestion that sciatica might merely be a sign that you need to take things a little slower and not something to be scared about.

I mean letting your body catch up with your mind and learning that you have to sit before you stand.

I mean going from having people sitting on your lap to being brave enough to sit on theirs.

I mean...

I can sit safely and independently again and there's lots of fun to be had.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Day 125 - Chariots of Fire reprise

You may remember a post sometime in June about how inspired I'd been by the stage version of Chariots of Fire at Hampstead Theatre. Well, on Wednesday evening, I was lucky enough to see it again (this time with Eileen, in the West End at the Gielgud) at the invitation of the wonderful cast. This is to thank Sam (Simon), Tam, Jack, Daniel (and James and Mark in absentia), Savannah, Antonia, Natasha, Dave, Joe, Paul, Andrew, Lloyd, Simon and Simon (so many Simons!), Matt, Gareth, Sam, Henry, Leemore, Nickolas and Nicholas...and all the other fabulous people I met for their generosity, support and interest in this little girl's dream to run.

It truly means the world to have you all behind me, and to have a link to 'Team GB of 1924', as Sam so aptly put it. Not only do I know that I've got the embodied spirits of Liddell, Abrahams, Lindsey and Montague guiding me, thanks to my newfound friends, but I've learnt I'm like a combination of all of them: my technique's awful, I'm way beyond the border of obsessive, I won't let a hurdle lie until I've jumped it, and I'm running for the contentment and joy of the race. I really needed that boost of motivation, and I got it on Wednesday, so I can't thank you all enough.

Equally, I'm so grateful for our chat afterwards, because it confirmed for me that I really do want to act - and that there's hope for work after graduation, because most of you are my age!

All my love and thanks,

Jessi - the girl who's leaving her chariot behind ;) xxx     

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Day 124 - look up to the stars, not down at your feet

The Paralympic Opening Ceremony was over a week ago - I can't quite believe how quickly the time has gone - but that's where my title for today's post comes from, because it's one of those events. Everyone will remember where they were, and I certainly do - with my Woodlarks family at Pathfinders 2012: United.

(Yes, it's that post. You finally get to find out what happened that one time at...'red, white and blue' camp.)

And, you can be sure of it, there was lots of looking up to the stars. We had to - if we'd looked down at the floor, let alone our feet, we would've seen the mud we'd tracked into our tent. So we slept outside instead, and really looked up to the stars:


But even breaking our chairs didn't get us out of the drying up:


Seriously, though, it was a week of achievements - Claire completed a 26th length swim in a fantastic one hour and twenty minutes, raising over £700 (last I heard) for Chestnut, her local hospice - something she'd never done before:


And it's my Pathfinders family, who welcomed me with open arms a year ago, I have to thank for their support in making the (literal) strides I have for you below:

Thanks especially to Nori, Hannah and the rest of Red Patrol (to Levi for the hug at the end), to Jill, Hattie, Helen, Hazel and Sam, and of course to Jane and Dave for leading yet another wonderful camp. I feel truly blessed to say that the first video of me walking in my hoist was made at my favourite place in the world, with my favourite people.

The Wonders of Woodlarks will never cease to amaze me. I love you all and am ever grateful.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Day 120 - for Jess Hunter

Yesterday I got back from a wonderful second holiday at Pathfinders Camp - it truly was the best ever in my ten years at Woodlarks, a place that seems to get more special every time I go there. My post about it will have to wait 'til Tuesday, however, for two reasons: firstly because so many awesome things occurred that I need to get them coherent in my head so I don't make it more rambly a post than it already is and, secondly, because there's someone else achieving amazing goals this week who deserves a mention today.

So -

To a best pal, namesake, once-upon-a-time roommate and eternal soulmate,

I've known you since that very first night you wailed down the corridor of Maple House because you didn't want to be left there. How far you've come, my Boccia Baby, from a timid teenager - through laughter, tears, midnight conversations and broken arms (anything to get out of those exams, eh?) - to a proud and prepared paralympian. Of course we always knew how awesome you were - we could see it in the cheeky glint of your eye, and I called you my happy-go-lucky girl from the start - but now it's your chance to show the world the majesty of Munter.

I love you, dear, and I'm right behind you today, tomorrow and forever - Rainbow Girls together always!

Can't wait to see you play in the morning; I'm so very, very proud!

Marrott xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx