Orchard Manor’s Paralympic Experience

Paralympics fan

Residents, students and staff from Meldreth and Orchard Manor were excited to be given tickets to attend the Paralympic Games this summer.

The Friends of Meldreth and Orchard Manor organised tickets for three Paralympic events including wheelchair rugby, wheelchair basketball and swimming. Dozens of young people  had the experience of a lifetime as they watched British paralympians make history.

Up at the crack of dawn on several days, everyone made their way in our buses to the various Olympic sites. Sat navs were programmed, packed lunches prepared, bags full of clothing and necessities ready. All the effort this kind of outing required was rewarded the moment we entered into the Olympic grounds. From the car park attendants to the volunteer ushers, the security guards and the novelty sales people, everyone had a smile on their face and a joke to make, a way to make you feel welcome and part of a momentous occasion.

No task was too great to ask of the Games Makers, who won all our hearts with their enthusiasm and acts of kindness and consideration throughout the Games. Orchard Manor were the recipients of their kindness when we arrived a little late for our Women’s Basketball session. After a few technical glitches one Games Maker offered to find us some better seating. We had found all the wheelchair access seating superb at other events, so you can imagine our delight at now getting taken to the courtside seating area just as England were playing! Screams and cheers erupted and smiles were on everyone’s faces as we joined the event.

The young people were enthralled by the sound of so many people, by the colours around them of flags and costumes and the sensory environments they found themselves in. The excitement of the days rubbed off on everyone. Strangers from all over the world chatted to you as you made your way through the park as though they were your next door neighbour. The group I was lucky enough to be with enjoyed an afternoon lunch sitting along the river within the Olympic Park on wooden benches surrounded by the wild flowers beds. We strolled around the park taking in all the wondrous sights, stopping with tea and biscuits before finding our way to the car park.

It was an astonishing feeling to see an event as large as this made so accessible to so many people. Our thanks go to the special dedicated group of Friends who made it is possible for us all to be part of this historical event – we have the badges, the souvenir programmes, the t-shirts and the wonderful memories to prove it!