Tag Archives: ride london

“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.

“It’s characters like Craig who are the true role models our society and generation needs”

Guest blog by Ellie Hetebrij, a photojournalism student. Ellie was inspired to capture Paralympic cycling hopeful, Craig Green, training for Rio 2016 after reading his story as part of our 100 days, 100 stories campaign.  

My background in photography is in sport and extreme training. This year I have started following Paralympic hopefuls and disabled athletes for what I hope will be an ongoing project about what it takes to win a place to compete at Rio.

Craig training on an indoor static bikeI first came across Craig Green when I read an article about him on Scope’s website as part of the 100 Days, 100 Stories campaign. While reading it, I couldn’t help but be inspired by him – he had risen above the obstacles life had thrown at him and sounded so determined.

I don’t think that I had any preconceptions about disabled athletes. I’m incredibly inspired by what Craig and the others I’m documenting do. The way in which Craig turned his life around is Craig pumping up his bike tyreswhat I found incredibly inspiring; to me it’s characters like Craig who are the true role models our society and generation needs.

In all inspiring people’s stories there is always an event where the main character lands in trouble. But this is where Craig’s story really begins, although it may sound hard to believe, it would seem that the day Craig went to jail is the day his life changed for the better.

Craig training in the velodromeCraig was born with Poland Syndrome, a condition affecting his right hand and pectoral muscles. When he left school, he was told that his hand would stop him following his friends into a trade like bricklaying or the Army. In need of money, he found work on a cannabis farm and in June 2010 was sentenced to four years in prison for conspiracy to cultivate a class B drug.

Craig putting his bike helmet onThis proved to be a turning point. He spent his free time getting fit and volunteering at the prison gym and then the Peterborough YMCA community gym, which he now manages. He got hooked on cycling after a successful trial for the British cycling team after attending an event showcasing Paralympic sports.

He now trains six days a week and is a C5 paracycling hopeful for the Rio Paralympics in 2016. The Rio qualifiers are coming up in September and he needs scores and points from this season’s competitions and the World Cup Series to win a sport on Team GB.

Craig is a truly inspiring and humble character. It has been a pleasure working alongside him in his pursuit of the Paralympics. Craig is very passionate about cycling and trains incredibly hard. I hope to continue documenting his journey towards the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.Group of cyclists in motion

Ellie is a second year student studying for a press and editorial photography degree at Falmouth University. The images of Craig are part of her coursework. 

Craig is taking part in Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 2015 for Scope this August. Follow him on Twitter  for updates.

Scope is proud to be charity of the year for Prudential Ride London-Surrey-100 2015. Join our team with free entry before 13 May to cycle 100 miles through London and Surrey. All riders will receive a limited edition cycling jersey and a hero’s reception at the finish. Public entries are now closed and the only way to join the event is with Scope. Join now! 

“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!

“Not every family that is affected by disability is as lucky as us”

Guest post from Stuart, whose twin brother Fraser has Down’s Syndrome. He is riding the Prudential Ride London 100 for Scope this year in memory of Sheena Walker, a tireless disability campaigner and former Scotswoman of the Year who helped Fraser and his family to get a better deal in life.

stuart-picOn 10 August I will be cycling 100 miles in the Ride100. More important than the physical challenge of cycling 100 miles is the challenge to raise money for Scope – a charity which I have a personal connection with.

My twin brother Fraser was born with Down’s Syndrome.

Glasgow in the mid 1970s wasn’t best equipped to deal with this. Indeed at this point most people were barely able to even talk about it. I recently discovered an official letter from the hospital following Fraser’s birth which rather cryptically refers to “Fraser’s problem”.

Support and respite care was also pretty much an alien concept at this time. One of the options open to my parents at the time would have been to send Fraser to the nearest hospital – Lennox Castle. The towers of the Castle were visible from my primary school. Nestling in the countryside next to the Campsie Hills to the North of Glasgow, it seemed like an idyllic setting.

However horror stories about what went on there used to do the rounds of the playground. Such was the reputation of the place, my parents never once entertained it as an option for Fraser. They never even visited it.

Decades on, the horror stories proved to be true as revelations emerged about people being starved, drugged and abused at the Castle.

My parents wanted something better for Fraser. As a result they faced a long hard struggle to ensure as bright a future as possible for my brother.

At this point my family was fortunate enough to come into contact with a woman called Sheena Walker – one of the most truly remarkable people I’ve ever met. Sheena recently passed away but she made a huge mark on the community she served.

As my mother noted in one of the many newspaper tributes to Sheena after her death, she was a former Scotswoman of the Year and a tireless campaigner for people with disabilities. To borrow my mother’s words: “She was such a strong person who took on the government, took on social services and anyone else she thought was not giving disabled young people the help they needed….She said she’d find a better place for her boys and other children even if she had to build it herself. And that’s what she did.”

Not every family that is affected by disability is as lucky as us though.

This is why I think Scope is so important.

Scope exists to make this country a better place for disabled people and their families. They do this by running a range of services, raising awareness of the issues that disabled people face and influencing change across society. They provide support, advice and information for more than a quarter of a million disabled people and their family members every year.

So thankfully, times have changed. The grounds of Lennox Castle are now home to Celtic FC’s new plush training facilities. Attitudes to disability have changed. Attitudes towards care for the disabled have changed. And attitudes towards supporting families affected by disability have changed.

But we cannot rest on our laurels. In the current political climate, charities are facing tough times – and they need help. Disabled people have been particularly harshly treated as a result of recent public sector cuts. I’ve witnessed this first hand – and indeed live with the fear that one day Fraser’s care package will be affected by the decisions of a government which seems at times intent on targeting the most vulnerable in society – rather than the culpable.

I am riding in memory of Sheena Walker in an effort to continue the legacy of remarkable people like her. With your help I’m raising money to help other families facing the daily challenges of disability.

You can donate to Stuart’s fundraising online and find out how he does next week on Twitter.