Tag Archives: Events

George’s Marvellous Bike Ride is a community event

Lesley, a family friend of George who had quadriplegic cerebral palsy, cycles in his memory every year.  Last year George’s Marvellous Bike Ride partnered with Scope to fundraise to help other families and raise awareness.

In this blog, Lesley talks about George who inspired this tremendous event and how much it means to get everyone’s support.

A boy and lady looking at the camera and smiling
George and his mum, Anna

George inspired those around him to enjoy life

Since 2012, Georges Marvellous Bike Ride has gone from strength to strength. All in memory of one incredible boy. George Hutchings had quadriplegic cerebral palsy and needed 24-hour care. He was unable to move around independently or speak. George was always happy and inspired those around him to enjoy life. We want to continue to help others like him to enhance their lives and relieve the pressure on their families.

This year, we chose Scope to partner with. We felt like Scope had the right ethos because it supports people like George. It was an easy choice. I saw the challenges and hardship George and his family faced.

It is a community event

We all decided to do a ride as Anna (George’s mum) used to do a lot of cycling with George. It has been a very big part of their lives.  It isn’t just a ride. It is a community event. We want to incorporate as many people and make it as accessible as possible.

George’s Marvellous Bike Ride consists of a mix of rides and routes aimed at families.  A lot of children take part.  One boy raised £700 and he had a broken arm. There are options for all riders of all abilities cycling distances from 11 miles to over 60 miles.

An event banner with cycles at the top and George's Marvellous Bike Ride text in the middle and georgesmarvellousbikeride.org.uk
George’s Marvellous Bike Ride banner

We’ve had the most riders since we started in 2012

Our small team consists of me, my husband (Rob), Anna, George’s uncle Nick and a few more friends. We want to keep the ride small and informal as we don’t want it to be a huge ride that will lose all its meaning.

It’s a very emotional day, as it’s about George. It’s an amazing way to remember George and celebrate his memory. It’s so nice to see everyone happy, especially this year as it was a bright sunny day.

Georges Marvellous bike ride people cycling
Cyclists getting ready to set off.

It really came home this year how much of a community event it is.  It was lovely to see everyone in their bright yellow t-shirts. We had 92 altogether, which is the most riders we’ve ever had since it started in 2012.

We’ve had one little supporter from the start called Amy, who gets everyone sorted on the day. She was 7 at the first ride and is 13 now and has helped us every year since.

We will continue to raise money for George.

We will carry on organising the bike ride and spread Georges story. When it’s frantic the morning of the event I always say I’m never going to do this again, but then when it’s over I’m always the first to ask what date we are doing it next year.

Scope is incredibly grateful to everyone involved in Georges Marvellous Bike Ride and to George himself for inspiring so many people to make a difference.

If you would like to raise money and organise your own bike ride or fundraising event for Scope to provide services for families like George’s find out how you can get involved on our website.

“We had never thought about disability seriously until Oliver was born”

Chris is taking part in RideLondon for Scope next weekend. When his son, Oliver, was born with an undiagnosed condition, Chris didn’t know who to turn to for support.

We had never thought about disability seriously until Oliver was born. Oliver has an undiagnosed genetic condition which has certain physical manifestations. He was born with fused fingers and he has a cleft palate. He has some other conditions and a severe learning disability but it’s quite hard to describe. If your child has Cerebral Palsy or something that has a name, then you know where to go because there are people who will support you for that.

Oliver, a young child wearing glasses, smiles

We’ve also found out that Oliver is very strongly on the autistic spectrum as well. This came as quite a surprise to us because he has a very good sense of humour. He is very naughty but not in a bad way. He is incredibly cheeky. At school, he will quite often wait until his teacher is looking at him and then he’ll knock something off the table and he knows that he shouldn’t do it but he just has this glimpse in his eye while he does it and he makes everyone fall in love with him.

He is an outrageous flirt, no seriously, its dreadful, in a good way. He has a filthy laugh and this wonderful grin. What he will do, particularly with women, is just look you in the eye, give you this grin and suddenly you’ll forgive him for anything. You really do.

He has a lust for life

Oliver is going through a really good stage at the moment. He just has a lust for life . He wants to be in everything. He’s just started walking in the last few months which is great, charging all over the place, getting into all sorts of trouble. What is so nice about it for us is that he is getting into all the trouble that toddlers get into. It’s that ‘oh god Oliver stop doing it’, but then its ‘oh how wonderful’. This is what he’s meant to be doing given his stage of development.

He’s got loads of friends at school which is nice. Even though he’s totally non-verbal, he just seems to have a way with him about charming people. He loves any motorised transport so he gets incredibly excited whenever he sees busses or trains or helicopters. He does what we call his jazz hands when he sees them. He does that a lot and that’s a sign of when he’s excited.

He loves being in the car, loves being on the move. He’s quite partial to waving to everybody who sees him and then he just sees how many people wave back.

Chris with his son, Oliver. They are sitting on some steps on a beach.
Chris and his son Oliver sitting on the beach

The support from Scope has been invaluable

Scope offers such a broad variety of support and information. When you’re not sure where to go next, information is what you really want. Sometimes you just want to be signposted to an expert. Sometimes you want very specific things and sometimes you just want to know that someone else is there. That’s actually really important, just knowing that someone is there and they get it.

I’m a pushy little proud parent and I want Oliver to achieve everything that he is capable of achieving. I want to make sure that he has every opportunity in life to do everything he can.

Joining #TeamScope for RideLondon

I’ve done Ride London twice before and it’s so much fun doing it because it’s completely closed roads. It’s such a brilliant experience.

The support from #TeamScope has been really nice and the Facebook group is a nice idea. When you go past the point and you hear people cheering, it does give you a boost, and you feel part of something. I go out cycling for health and fitness, but Ride London gives me a focus and something to build up to. It also gives me the opportunity to do a bit of good as well.

I just worry that without organisations like Scope, opportunities for disabled people, like Oliver, are going to get taken away. Scope have been there for our family when we’ve needed support and I want to make sure that they are there for many years to come.

Join #TeamScope today to ensure that support and information is there for families like Chris and Oliver’s. Whether it’s running, swimming, cycling or trekking, we have charity events for everyone.

Find out more about the events that we have on offer.

‘Tears were shed. Fun was had’ – What it’s like running the London Marathon as a disabled person

Jay and Nicky both ran the London marathon for Scope on Sunday. In this blog they talk about taking on the challenge and share their experiences of the day.

Jay, from Winchester

Head and shoulders shot of a man smiling with a blurred background

Jay, 36, was born without a lower left arm and he wears a prosthetic arm in public. He has just run the London Marathon for Scope without his prosthesis – something he would normally wear to help him ‘blend in’ and feel ‘normal’.

Throughout my life I have always done everything my friends have done, including playing sports – I have even mastered one-handed golf. However, I have always felt self-conscious and experienced people staring, as well as people noticing my arm and then quickly looking away, as if they were embarrassed.

My prosthetic arm is held on by a silicone liner which doesn’t allow perspiration out. If I sweat during exercise water builds up and the arm starts to lose suction, meaning I have to hold onto it while I run, so it made more sense to run without it.

Sunday’s marathon was a big personal challenge, but I hope it helped in highlighting Scope’s work and gave others the courage to be themselves in public. I wanted to show other people, especially children, that if I can do this race without my arm then they can have the confidence to go out and not feel self-conscious about their own disability.

Shot of Jay running in a Scope vest

I woke up on the morning of the marathon feeling nervous. Not only was I going to be running the longest run of my life, I was going to be doing it without wearing my safety blanket, my prosthetic arm. Even going to breakfast in the hotel without my arm felt strange and travelling on the Tube was something I would never have done before, until that moment when I had to make my way to the start line.

I felt great for the first 14-16 miles. I did the first half in 1hr 48 mins. The crowd were fantastic. I had no negativity, no one stared, all I felt was overwhelming support and encouragement. It was liberating running without my prosthetic arm — I felt much freer and the running felt easier by not having to carry the weight around. The real highlight, as for many runners, was that run over the iconic Tower Bridge. And running past familiar faces along the way and at the Scope cheering points!

The last two miles, although painful, were incredible. The ‘J’ was falling off my vest so people were calling out ‘Come on, Ay!’ or ‘Scope Runner’! and other runners on the Mall were trying to encourage me to get across the finish line. I basically collapsed at the end! But I had done it. And I was so pleased to have achieved my target time of sub 4 hours with a respectable finishing time of 3hrs 49 mins.

The marathon was one of the hardest things I have ever done but it was so rewarding. Scope’s support was fantastic – from phone calls in the build up to the race to the post-race reception (and birthday card!). They reminded me why I was doing this and I was so glad I did. I think I achieved my goal of showing the world that disability needn’t be a barrier and to raise awareness of this great charity.

Nicky, from the Netherlands

Nicky running in a Scope vest with her oxygen tank

Nicky, 29, has chronic lyme disease and persistent glandular fever. Due to her conditions Nicky wore an oxygen mask, attached to a 2 kg oxygen tank during the marathon, to allow a continuous stream of 98% oxygen to be pumped into her lungs.

Last year I decided I was just going to do it, and sign up for the marathon. I was on crutches at the time – my illness had left me barely able to walk. I’m a very determined person though and my running training progressed well.  I wanted to show others that nothing should hold them back from following their dreams.

I ran the marathon because I believe I have a choice. I ran for those who don’t have that choice, and those who aren’t yet aware they have the choice.

Photo of Nicky sat on a bench tieing her shoelace

Race day was there before I knew it. I knew I was getting sick because my body was showing symptoms the day before, but I was hoping I’d get to finish the marathon first. I was wrong. Seven miles in I spiked the highest fever I’ve ever experienced on a run. I was able to keep running for another mile, but then had to resort to walking. I threw up (sorry, spectators) and knew I should stop. Along came Jess, some stranger who was running for another charity. She walked with me for a while and got me running again. Just one foot in front of the other. The crowds were amazing. Running with oxygen is hard (I bruised two ribs) and the pain in my lungs was insane, but everyone was rooting for me. I may have cried a few times.

Two miles later it was Jess who had to stop. She was in more pain than I could imagine at the time. She kept telling me to keep going and not let her slow me down, but we were in this together and I wasn’t about to leave her behind. I managed to grab a sign saying “Go Jess” from her friends in the audience and spent a couple of miles getting the crowds to cheer her on the way they’d been cheering me on the whole time. Tears were shed. Fun was had.
She wouldn’t have finished without me. I wouldn’t have finished without her.

Whether you’re physically ill, disabled, mentally ill, or just going through a really rough time: bad days are a marathon. Just keep moving forward the best way you know how. Try not to give up on yourself. And when you encounter someone whose hope is about to slip through their fingers, try not to let them give up on themselves either. We can all do this alone, but we are all better together.

Fancy taking on a challenge yourself? Sign up for 2018 or check out some of our other challenge events.

Taking on an IRONMAN: “I’ve learnt I’m so much stronger than I thought”

If you thought running a marathon was impressive, try tackling a 112 mile cycle and 2.4 mile swim as well. Cat Alabaster, our Challenge Events Manager, will be taking on the challenge of a life time as she enters the IRONMAN Weymouth  on 11 September.

With just three months to go, writing about my inspiration for taking part in IRONMAN 2016 in Weymouth fills me with a mixture of emotions.

Catherine posing in her IRONMAN gear
Cat showing off her IRONMAN gear

For me this really isn’t about the race itself but about the ‘journey’ to get to the start line.  Working at Scope has given me the environment and inspiration to take on this challenge. Having always struggled with confidence and low self-esteem, this was my way to prove I’m as strong as I can be physically but more importantly mentally.

My challenge and preparation

The IRONMAN is a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon 26.2-mile run, raced in that order and without a break. No wonder it’s known as the ‘toughest one day event in the world’

I train six days a week and frequently twice a day. Obviously the bulk of the sessions are focused around swim, cycle, run but there are a number of strength and conditioning, yoga and physio sessions thrown in for good measure.

I’m heading out to do a half distance race (70.3 miles) in Budapest at the end of July. I’m hoping this will give me a glimpse into IRONMAN event day, plus I’ve heard the beer is super cheap over there for some post-race celebrations! After that it will be six weeks until race day.

Why did I choose Scope?

Two cyclists riding along a country path
Cat in training

Simply because of the people who are supportive, motivated but most importantly extremely passionate.  The desire to help create a better, fairer society for disabled people and their families is infectious.  Not only do I have the chance to impact Scope’s work in my day to day role as Events Manager, but taking on this challenge means I can hopefully broaden the awareness of Scope and its vital work even further.

It’s my friends, particularly my colleagues at Scope, who listen to me complain and give me the belief in myself that I can do this.  And there is definitely a lot of complaining, particularly as I fall off my bike nearly every time I go out!

The reward

I’m really excited to take part in the IRONMAN. This is my personal challenge of growth and acceptance, and for me that will probably be harder than the physical challenge itself. I’ve learnt I’m so much stronger than I thought, and with the right people around  me I am able to realise my dreams and push myself further than I ever thought. My mantra is ‘Don’t wait until you’ve reached your goal to be proud of yourself. Be proud of every step you take towards reaching that goal.’ So in case you’re thinking of signing up to IRONMAN, here are three things you need to know:

  1. It becomes all you think, talk and dream about
  2. You will need to eat more food than you ever thought possible
  3. You will meet some of the most incredible people along the way to an utterly life changing experience.

If you’re feeling inspired to take on an IRONMAN, or something a little less challenging, find an event that’s perfect for you at scope.org.uk/events or email the events team events@scope.org.uk.

Learning to run again as an amputee – Chris’ story

In 2008, keen runner Chris and his wife Denise both lost their left legs in a motorbike accident. Together they recovered and Chris was determined to keep running. He’s since taken part in long-distance runs and triathlons, and in January 2016 he climbed Kilimanjaro to celebrate his 60th birthday. Chris is running the Royal Parks Half Marathon for Scope in October. In this blog he talks about learning to run again and why you shouldn’t let anything hold you back.

Getting back into running

There aren’t many amputee runners so a lot of it you just have to figure out for yourself. One of the first books I read after the amputation was Chris Moon’s autobiography. I got somebody to bring it to the hospital. I knew I needed it for inspiration, to get me excited about the possibility of running again!

We met with three prosthetic companies. When I asked about running, one of the prosthetists said he’d never had anyone wanting to run before but agreed it would be possible and his company would find a way. He actually got Oscar Pistorius’ prosthetist to come over and get me fitted up with a running leg that had an articulated knee. He got me running very quickly but it took a year until I could run 5km continuously with it.

The right prosthetic makes all the difference

After a while he suggested I try a pylon leg, which is one without an articulated knee. I really wasn’t keen because the movement is different. With an articulated knee the leg comes straight through, but you have to swing a pylon leg out to the side for ground clearance which looks awkward. But he said “Believe me Chris think it would make a big difference”. So we went to the running track, fitted the leg and I broke my 400m record within about 10 minutes!

We were told this statistic: if you’re a below the knee amputee you use about 15-25% more effort. If you’re above the knee, which I am, it’s 60%. It’s a lot of work! But with the pylon leg I can bounce along quite comfortably. Now when I’m running I’m not thinking about the leg. It’s just heart, lungs and the clock – just like it used to be.

Chris running the half marathon in Qatar
Chris running the half marathon in Qatar

How training has changed

Where we live is a fantastic place to run. There’s a National Trust property 500 metres up the road. You can run for miles on beautiful trails.

I’m slower now so the training takes longer; I have to plan it a bit more. I used to be able to run around six minutes a mile, now anything under 10 is good! Training for a half marathon now is a bit like training for a full marathon before the accident. I have done a full marathon with my pylon leg but it was a massive undertaking.

You have to take care of the stump, making sure you have Vaseline in all the right places! If you do get a rub it can stop you from training for about a week. You’ve also got to find a way to control sweating because the liner will start to slip. A friend suggested I try a car cloth because it absorbs a lot of moisture and it doesn’t slip. So I tried that, put the liner over the top and I’ve never looked back! It’s made a huge difference.

Advice for others

Get in contact with other people with a similar disability and find out what’s possible.

When I was training for my first triathlon I had no idea where to begin, particularly with cycling. I found para-athlete Sarah Reinertsen’s website and sent her an email. Within a couple of days she came back with a four page response with all the information I needed! I just used that as a guide book. The reason I can cycle is because of that email.

When we were still in Houston I spent some time chatting to a depressed young man who was just amazed that I was racing with an above the knee amputation. He’s racing now – and that proved to me that it’s not just about being physically able to do it but psychologically able too. So if I can inspire others, that’s what I’d like to do.

Chris running the half marathon in Houston, Texas.
Chris running the half marathon in Houston, Texas.

Don’t let anything hold you back

Despite our injuries we haven’t changed inside. We’re the same people, life goes on and it can be as enjoyable. It’s just a new normal.

Some of the runners I used to train and race with aren’t able to compete any more because of various injuries or health issues. Whereas I’m still thinking “what can I take on next?” – so I’m really not complaining!

I did my first triathlon in 2011 and it was just fantastic to learn a new endurance sport, something I’d never done before and with only one leg – it’s just incredible. And I climbed Kilimanjaro this year with my son – it was a treat for my 60th birthday!

Why I wanted to fundraise for Scope

In 2012 I joined my daughter in her first half marathon, ‘Run to the Beat’. We decided to raise funds for charity and, as a para-athlete, Scope was the obvious choice. Recently, Scope emailed me about Royal Parks and I thought “I would love to do that”. I love those parks and used to train in them when I worked in Central London. It’s also a chance to raise money again for Scope – it’s perfect!

Join Chris and the rest of Team Scope by running the Royal Parks Half Marathon this year. Sign up for £25 today and take on the challenge!

To read more of Chris and Denise’s story visit their website. You can also sponsor Chris here.

Cheer on our runners in the London Marathon

Come and volunteer with our events team at the London Marathon on Sunday 24 April and join our cheer spots along the route. You’ll be helping keep our 120 Scope runners motivated to keep going! 

Our main cheer spot will be near St George’s Gardens (102-106 The Highway, Shadwell, E1W 2BU), where runners will pass by at miles 13.5 and loop back around so you will see them again at mile 21.5. We will have cheer equipment, t-shirts and drumming facilitators so you can create some groovy rhythms and support our fundraisers on this incredible challenge. Cheering really does make a difference to our fundraisers and we pride ourselves on being one of the largest and fun cheer squads on the route!A screenshot of the google map showing the cheer spot location

We also have a cheer spot at mile 25 next to Embankment tube station, so you can help the runners along their final stretch to the finish line.

We hope to see you there! If you have any questions, email events@scope.org.uk 

When is diving out of a plane a good idea?

Scope’s Digital Film and Media Officer, Phil, talks about his experiences of doing a sponsored skydive for Scope. Visit our website to see what fundraising events you can get involved in this year.

Phil smiles wearing a skydiving jumpsuit

I started work at Scope in November 2014 and within a few months I decided I wanted to do some fundraising. Now, I was a little too lazy to stop eating cake to do a marathon, which also meant that a Machu Picchu trek was a definite no. Because of this, I came to the ridiculous decision that I should do a skydive.

I have many fears… Spiders, clowns and even a ridiculous fear of seaweed (you know, when it brushes up against your leg while you’re swimming in the sea?). But one of my biggest fears has got to be heights.

What better thing for an acrophobic person to do than fling themselves out of a plane? For some reason, it seemed like such a good idea at the time!

Raising the cash

With only a few months to go until the big day, I had to get some serious fundraising underway.

I started with the usual route of sharing my JustGiving page with family, friends and across my social media channels. This got a fairly good response with just over £200 being collected in a week.

However, I knew I needed to do more. I decided to step it up.

My first port of call was Krispy Kreme who offer dozens upon dozens of doughnuts to fundraisers at a reduced cost (find out more about using Krispy Kreme doughnuts for fundraising on their website). One morning, I brought in 120 to the office. News spread and I soon had a large queue forming at the stall I’d set up in reception. Not only is it a surefire way to raise lots of cash but if there are any leftover, you’ve got some scrummy treats to make your success taste even sweeter.

Next was my raffle. I scoured the local area and came up trumps with a whole host of amazing donated prizes. From a signed Man Utd shirt to a pair of cinema tickets to a case of locally brewed ale – there was something for everyone! This is a fundraising technique that everyone should think about doing. All you need is a letter of authorisation from the charity you’re raising money for and to be ready to sell your cause to potential donors.Phil stands in front of a plane with his skydiving instructor

The money was coming in thick and fast now but I wanted to do one final push to raise those last few pennies. I organised a pub quiz at Scope HQ which had a great turn out. There were prizes, drinks and lots of laughs. All in all, it was a fantastic evening.

At the end of my (tiring!) fundraising, I’d managed to raise around £1000, which I was extremely happy with. That was the hard part over. But the hardest part was just around the corner – the skydive.

Facing my fear

The day of the skydive came around so quickly. I’m not even going to pretend that I was calm and collected at this point. Words cannot describe how terrified I was. The video below should give you a good idea of what the day was like.

I would urge everyone to take part in a fundraising event, especially an adrenaline event such as skydiving. What an experience!

My top tips

  1. Start your fundraising early. This will allow you to take your time thinking up the most effective money raising techniques.
  2. Think big. Without doing this, I wouldn’t have got the massive collection of prizes donated by larger companies (including VUE cinemas, Manchester United and Naked Wines)
  3. Persist! You may think you’re annoying people across social media with your constant fundraising asks, but you need to drive the message home in order to raise the maximum amount possible.
  4. Update everyone involved. Make sure you send an update and a thank you to everyone involved in the success of your fundraising efforts. For example, I sent a personalised thank you letter to every company and individual that donated a prize for the raffle.
  5. Have fun! Make sure you fundraise in a way that feels fun and makes you happy – it will feel so much less of an effort this way. If you love baking, do a bake sale!

Phil during his skydive, falling through the air with his thumbs up.

Inspired by Phil conquering his fears? Find a fundraising event you can get involved in this year. 

“I wasn’t going to do it for charity this year. But I saw Scope is the official charity – it made sense!”

On 2 August more than 15,000 amateur riders will take to the streets of London and Surrey for the third Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 – a 100 mile route on closed roads.

700 of those will be taking part for Scope as part of our official charity of the year team, and one of those is Carl. He knows the route having taken part in 2014 and will be hoping the sun shines, unlike last year!

“Box Hill was okay. But Leigh Hill was shut, we had to go down a diversion because of the weather and that was horrendous. So I’m hoping it’s not like that!” A keen cyclist, he’s often out with his friends testing themselves on the local hills. But there’s nothing quite like event day. “I think if you ride for a charity, the support you get on the day is fantastic. I rode with a couple of friends who weren’t riding for charity and they were completely in awe of us getting cheered on.”

Carl’s reason for taking part is his nephew. Connor was born prematurely and has cerebral palsy. Connor’s mum, Lauren, explained how they initially found out about his diagnosis through their physiotherapist. “One day I got asked to fill in some forms – I asked her for help because it asked what was wrong with him and I didn’t quite know what to say. She just said “well it’s cerebral palsy” but nobody had actually told us that. We were quite shocked. We just thought it was because he was premature, that he would catch up.”

Connor has received fantastic support from the local community. His first play group had a sensory room and it was here that he first walked – a great milestone when the family had been warned he probably wouldn’t walk or talk. “He walked properly. He was nearly three when he started, the same week as his cousin who was one.”

The family first came across Scope when they were looking for help choosing Connor’s secondary school – the local authority recognised that Connor was bright and wanted to place him in a mainstream school. But Lauren and her husband, Kevin, felt that Connor progressed more with one to one support at a specialist school. Connor went on to prove them wrong, attending the local secondary school and gaining good results in his GCSEs. From speaking to Scope and another charity called Network 81, they were able to encourage the school to make the alterations Connor needed for his education, including having his lessons on the ground floor instead of up two flights of stairs. But now, the real work begins – deciding what Connor should do once he leaves college. Connor is keen to get involved in a local community project, the Harwich Mayflower project, where he can socialise and discuss doing an apprenticeship.

Cricket posterWhen Carl saw that Scope were the official charity for this year’s Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100, he felt it made sense to do the full 100 mile route with us. “Technically I didn’t complete it last year. It was 87 miles; it wasn’t 100 (due to the weather) so I felt a bit of a cheat.” He’ll be continuing his training and fundraising over the next few months, including a cricket night called Essex Legends, hosted at a local venue.

There’s still time to be a part of Scope’s Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 team. Get your place today and be treated to a hero’s reception, a massage in our chill out zone and TLC for your bike!

Paula’s story: my life with Cerebral Palsy told on stage

When Paula Rees was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy back in the 1970s, doctors told her parents there was little hope of her ever learning or understanding anything. Convinced the experts were wrong, Paula’s parents fought for her to experience the same opportunities as everyone else.

Paula Rees poet with cerebral palsyAgainst all odds, it emerged that Paula could not only understand what went on around her, but was able to express her own thoughts through poetry.

Now the writer in residence at Chickenshed, an inclusive theatre company in north London, Paula has been working with Chickenshed’s founders Mary Ward and Jo Collins on a musical dramatisation of her life.

Paula’s Story tells of an incredible journey of love, courage and commitment to the belief that every human being has the right to be nurtured. It tells of the magical breakthrough moment when Paula communicated with her mother for the first time, and the discovery of Paula’s talent as a poet, writer and lyricist.

“Watching my story performed by very committed people who believe in it, is the most moving experience and one which I feel privileged to have,” says Paula. “I know that professionals have been judging me from the day I was born – with my family being judged even more. My life and humanity for them ended on their first judgement, but I am still here.

“My family have brought me through everything – hurdle by hurdle, barrier by barrier, sadness by sadness – I owe them this story. It is far more a tribute to them, than me.”

A musical scene from Paula's Story
A scene from Paula’s Story

Paula’s Story is a powerful dramatic production which explores the basic human right for all individuals to be acknowledged for what they can do. Paula says she feels society looks at her in a very different way to the way she views herself.

“Here is society’s view about some of the important things that I can’t do:

  • I can’t move and so I can’t think.
  • I can’t talk and so I can’t communicate.
  • I can’t feed myself or dress myself. (People always say this. They always say it as if it’s important. I have never understood it, the importance of it I mean).

“Now here is my view about the important things I would like people to say about me:

  • I can move enough to write lyrics which are put to music and become what some people say are beautiful.
  • I can express myself in words I spell out so clearly – letter by letter – step by step – so I can communicate, if people are open to it.
  • Talk is not communication. Communication is communication.”

    Paula Rees in performance
    Paula in performance

Paula’s Story opens at the Chickenshed Theatre on 30 April and runs until 17 May. As a special offer to Scope followers, all tickets for 30 April, 2 and 3 May will be just £5. After that the concession rate of £8 will be charged. To book tickets go to the Chickenshed website or telephone 020 8292 9222. (18001 020 8292 9222 Typetalk) Please quote ‘Scope ticket offer’.

 

Will you catch “the running bug”?

Like many of us, Ellen O’Donohoe was more likely to put her feet up on an evening then get out and go for a run. But that all changed when she caught the ‘running bug’ from her housemate and in just three weeks time Ellen will be running her first ever half marathon for Scope at Run to the Beat. Like many of our participant’s, Ellen’s motivations for signing-up with Scope are personal – here’s her story documenting her training, injuries and fundraising over the past few months:

I was never very sporty growing up. I was always happier reading a book rather than playing sports. I surprised myself by getting into running. I was looking for a way to exercise (to lose some weight, if I’m honest) and decided that sticking to an exercise routine would be easier with a friend so I began joining my housemate who liked to run. It took a while, and I didn’t see it happening, but I grew to love running.

A tough Winter

Even so, earlier this year, during the bitterly cold winter months, I was finding it harder and harder  to go running. I decided to sign up for a race, something I’ve never done before,  so that I would have something to work towards. Running for charity made sense to me because I knew it would help to keep me motivated. My cousin had cerebral palsy and knowing of the support that Scope provides to people like her made me want to raise money for them.

The highs and lows of training

I started training right away, I had a long way to go from my two-three miles every week. I steadily increased the miles I was doing and was very proud the first time I reached 10K. Something I never would have believed I could do just a few years ago. Unfortunately, I pushed too hard and pulled a calf muscle. It was so frustrating. I was unable to run for six weeks!

Ellen's Colleagues Limbering Up for their Bleep Test

During that time I focused on fundraising instead. I organised a sponsored bleep test at work and convinced a few colleagues to join me. I planned it well in advance so my leg had time to heal (although it was close) five racers took part, including myself, and together we raised nearly £80.

Ellen's relieved finishers!A dash to the confidence

To help with my training and to get me used to the race atmosphere I signed up for a shorter race. I agreed to be part of a relay team for the Upton Tri in July, running 10k. It happened to fall on one of the hottest days of the year. By the time I was due to run my section the temperature had already reached 30 degrees. It was horrible. I made it half way around before the heat got the better of me and forced me to walk/run the rest. It took me a long time to reach the finish line, so much longer than I hoped. I finished the race disheartened, wishing I could have done better and worried about what this might mean for the race in September.

A little over a week later, I ran 10 miles for the first time in training. It did wonders for my confidence. It was such a difference from my practice race. For the first time I felt that no matter what happened, I would be able to make it across the finish line.

Injury free until race day?

As far as fundraising goes, my friends and family have been very generous. I still have a little way to go to reach my target but I’m hopeful I’ll make it. For now, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I will stay injury free until race day. Despite all the ups and downs that I now know comes with training I hope, that by race day, I will be strong enough and prepared enough to run the whole 13.1 miles.

If you’d like to sponsor Ellen and help her reach her fundraising goal then do visit her online giving page. We’ll be there on race day to cheer Ellen and our other Team Scope runners along the Run to the Beat course – if you’d like to be there with us then please do volunteer by emailing us at events@scope.org.uk. Or why not take on your own challenge for Scope?