Look on the Positives!


In my last blog I spoke about the small acts of kindness in the wake of the Manchester terrorist attack. Since then we have witnessed more horrors with the Finsbury Park attack and the Grenfell Tower fire. Our hearts go out to the victims of both and our thoughts are with them and their loved ones. Once again we saw the courage of others and the power of the community shine through; ultimately it is human kindness and the dignity of the human spirit that always triumphs. These horrors do put our own lives and worries into perspective and whilst we are still focused on how we will raise the funding we need for our GB team, such challenges pale into insignificance when compared to those who have lost loved ones and find themselves homeless and feeling real despair.


Our single focus at the moment is the European Championships which start next week in Koblentz. The team has trained and prepared well and it was uplifting for me to visit them in Lilleshall last week, to see how new athletes are shaping up, and to sense that spirits were high and that pre-competition excitement is building. I was reflecting on how it must feel for Ryan Cowling, Nick Cummings, Danny Dawould, Ollie Manglion and Stuart Robinson – all going into their first Euros and big tournament. And for Stuart what a journey….Afghanistan, Queen’s Hospital Birmingham, Headley Court, Personnel Recovery Centre, Invictus Games, GB Development Squad and now his first real GB vest  – what a great story – but that is so true for most of our athletes – they have all come through amazing things to be playing for their country today and perhaps that will give some hope and encouragement to others who are facing some dark times. It is good to see Myles Pearson return to GB after his journey from London 2012 through university and now to all the hard work he is putting in to finding a job and one he can do alongside being an unfunded professional athlete. I can’t wait to join the squad on Tuesday next week and I know we are all behind them, and their coaches Paul, Rob and Darren ,in this the first challenge of a new era. We will be sending back regular updates from Koblentz and we are hoping that the games will be streamed. The media coverage has already started with Captain Chris Ryan giving an outstanding TV interview in London on Thursday and Chris and I giving BBC London an interview yesterday which will be heard on BBC London Radio on Saturday.


But of course it’s not all about our GB team and its business as usual as Kirsty and her RDOs look to continue delivering support to clubs and to our various programmes. Amongst these is our H4H funded work in the military Personnel Recovery Centres. It was nice to read the positive comments about Luke’s work at Chavasse VC House in Colchester where he was working with army personnel who are part of the centre’s rehabilitation programme.


Many of you will have already heard or met the two new additions to our team. A big welcome to Leigh Boswell who has taken over from Daniel Hook as Corporate & Membership Secretary. She has made a great start this week in what is a busy role – please give her a little time to find her feet but I know she is keen to meet as many of you as she can. Likewise Lucy Knight who has joined us now as our first ever Head of Fundraising. She is as excited by the role as we are to have her and she has already attended her first Board of Management and is being proactive, getting on with things and starting to shape what will be our fundraising strategy. She will be out at the Europeans next week as she gains an understanding of the GB team and our game.


It was Women’s Sports Week last week and I was proud to hear Faye West talking about how good it is to be a woman playing wheelchair rugby. It would still be good to encourage more women to play our sport and we certainly have some great examples of women enjoying the game, Faye and Tilly are two and both feature on our website at the moment – in my time I have seen such talent in the likes of Kylie, Josie, Coral and Nathalie and there are others coming through our programmes. Whilst talking Women – many congratulations to Sport England CEO Jennie Price who was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Jennie has done a great deal for grassroots sport. It is not an easy task to get the nation active but Sport England has come up with some innovative ways in which to encourage active lifestyles and to support NGBs and other partners to provide sporting opportunities for everyone. They have also been hugely supportive of wheelchair rugby and recognise what it offers to a wide range of impairment groups.


So that’s it for this week – I am looking forward to the Lions match tomorrow (oh and didn’t our ambassador Mike Brown have an incredible game for England against Argentina last week?!) and then its surfing with my son on Sunday – well he surfs I get cold! But my mind and emotion is all with our quest to return as European Champions again so let’s go for it!


David Pond