Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Remembrance Rumble - A Great Night To Remember! (11/11/2016)

"Sun backed bout will be the first of its kind and hopes to raise vital charity cash" - The Sun

Charity Boxing

"Fight for Lives in association with Born Fearless Boxing (Ex SAS team) November 2016 in London in the iconic York Hall, with plans to fight Ex Navy Seals, in association with Brandon Webb in the US. The aim is to fight in the US each and every year.
 Fight For Lives are working in partnership with many great charities, which include Care After Combat, Talking2Minds and Pilgrim Bandits. Our aim is to raise awareness of their campaigns and to help to raise funds, which enables them to be there for those who need it." - Fight4Lives

    I personally want to thank all those who organised this behind the scenes and their hard work to get this charity boxing match officially launched.

  For those of you who have read my first blog, you'll know I blogged about PTSD and interviewed Foxy from Channel 4's #SASWhoDaresWins. As a young girl when I saw my Dad for the first time read huge military books, it was then from that point that my passion for military history was ignited. As time went by and I started to learn things about military history from a young age and having respect and being in awe of what our men and women do in the military while serving for our country, the most selfless thing I think someone can do by putting their life on the line without hesitation. I know they they probably don't like making a big fuss about it but sometimes they need our help and support in society. If anything it's the least we can do for them and especially for the fallen. (Lest we forget)

What made it even more precious was the event I volunteered for recently was on the 11th November which was Remembrance Day and Ex SAS were boxing against Ex Navy Seals for charity, who especially came over from the US. The main reason was to raise awareness of PTSD, military issues and things that our veterans need help with but might need the government to do more. Thankfully there are charities like Talking2Minds and Pilgrim Bandits helping our veterans and raising awareness of vital issues directly affecting our veterans in everyday life especially after leaving the forces. Talking2Minds was founded by Ex SAS member Rob Paxman and I believe it takes someone whose been there and done that to fight on behalf of others who are in the same position they once were. I've been following the work of Talking2Minds and Pilgrim Bandits, I am so impressed to see all the hard work they do all year round. The Remembrance Rumble is in association with Fight4Lives and Born Fearless Boxing. My Sister and I arrived early at York Hall to change into our outfits and be ready to know what Graeme from (Fight4Lives) wanted us and the other volunteers to do for the night.

It was so nice to meet such a friendly bunch of women, who were all excited like us to help for the first ever charity boxing match against Ex SAS and Ex Navy Seals. We met the lovely Wendy (Phil Campion 's partner) and Phil's beautiful daughter when setting everything up at the reception desk. My sister ended up selling the Born Fearless merchandise with Wendy opposite the Pilgrim Bandits charity with Ben Parkinson MBE etc. Being unwell but wanting to help out that's why I brought my sister along with me! Thanks Sis! X

It felt great to be a small part of something so big that will help so many veterans in the US as well as the U.K. behind the scenes where each charity will personally help those in need.

(Paul in the middle on the night.)

 The MC for the night was Mr Paul Booth. Paul was MC at Wembley Arena earlier this year for the famous Eubank - Blackwell fight, & has appeared as Boxing MC on every Sports TV network in Europe including both Sky Sports & Channel 5 in the UK, alongside Boxing Paul's appeared as MC for other sports on BBC Sport & ITV Sport as MC on the Great North Run, Crown Green Bowling and Darts.

Both the SAS and Navy Seals had 6 men on each side boxing on the night.

A photo posted by Brandon Webb (@brandontwebb) on

Brandon Webb (39) is a former Navy Seal who had trained the famous Chris Kyle (who was a United States Navy SEAL veteran and sniper) - who was portrayed and immortalised as the deadly sniper in the movie American Sniper.

Brandon, said: “I thought it was a great idea, especially in the Special Ops community the guys have the same mind-set, we’re cut from the same cloth, we all come from these crazy backgrounds. And I just think it’s a good way to work together to raise awareness around the veterans issues which we are still having on both sides of the pond. We’re putting the team together and we hope to hold this event in New York next year. It is going to be a spectacle like no other.”

A photo posted by Brandon Webb (@brandontwebb) on

"When I first meet Rob back in June he never had many skills in boxing but he has come on tremendously. I'm really proud of what we have achieved together, getting ready for this rumble. We have gone through every boxing drill there is from your basic boxing stants to the highest level of coaching as I would a senior elite amateur boxer. Rob has done everything I have asked him to do, he has learnt everything I have showed him and he actually looks like a Boxer. He certainly trained like a Boxer these last few months. Repetition is the mother of all skills. Never again would I listen to the old saying you can't teach an old dog new tricks because Rob is an old dog and he has learnt many new tricks." - Mulv - (Rob's trainer & sparring partner.)

Rob Paxman ex SAS was fighting for his chosen charity which he heads up. Talking2Minds work with those suffering severe stress related conditions, such as PTSD. Rob said the Remembrance Rumble is a unique and fantastic opportunity to raise awareness that not only civilians but the military too can suffer from mental health conditions. Rob said T2M really appreciated everyone's support for such a small charity that gets amazing results with people. Rob had said before the event to me that "Friday will be an awesome event that will go down in history as a first ever. A real privilege to be able to fight once again for what is close to my heart."

As of the 6th July 2016 - details of boxers:

Phil Campion – ex 22 SAS – 47 years old – 280 pounds – Novice boxer

Rob Paxman – ex 22 SAS – 48 years old – 238 pounds – Novice boxer

Billy Billingham – ex 22 SAS – 51 years old – 175 pounds – Intermediate boxer

Jim Walker – ex 22 SAS – 40 years old – 180 pounds – Novice boxer

Floyd Woodrow – ex 22 SAS – 47 years old – 220 pounds – Intermediate boxer

"The ethos behind this is we all fought for countries and now we are going to fight for our beliefs. And we are going to put in the same level of commitment as we did when we served into this project. We are going to give the public something they have never seen before.” - Phil Campion

Remember even though this is ( UK vs US ) it's all about helping soldiers/veterans on both sides through military charities/causes who work hard everyday to support those in need who just need a helping hand until they're back again having a better quality of life. Raising money through events like these are just one way you're helping the military community get the best care they deserve!

Let's get behind all the guys fighting again next year and show our support. Please donate to their fundraising page below if you can:

Rob "The Spartan" Paxman - Talking2Minds - https://www.talking2minds.co.uk/

Phil "The Hampshire Hammer " Campion - Care after Combat/Fight4Lives -
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Fight-For-Lives1 http://www.careaftercombat.org/

Billy "Bang Em Out" Billingham - Hinton Community Centre in Hereford -
https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/hinton REBUILD Globally

 - https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/mark-billingham

Matt “The Marauder” Charles - Next Step Foundation

Floyd "Woody" Woodrow - South Wye Boxing Club, SAS Regimental Association.

Jim "The Hitman" Walker - Veterans Of War - http://www.veterans-of-war.org/

1) Rob Paxman vs Eric Davis

2) Billy Billingham vs Connor Matthews

3) Floyd Woodrow vs Travis Krauss #DeltaRanger

4) Jim Walker vs Alex Hartley

5) Matt Charles vs Jason Delgado

6) Phil Campion vs Jon Schneider

(Taking a photo with Alex Hartley after charity boxing match.)

Alex Hartley told me what the Remembrance Rumble meant to him:

"It's hard to really put into words what the Remembrance Rumble meant to me. I've always been one to stay out of the spotlight as I tend to be more quiet and reserved than most men who are in NSW (Naval Special Warfare). But when Brandon called me and asked if I wanted to be a part of this event there was no way I could say no. Guys like Brandon, Eric Davis, and our mutual friend Glen Doherty are guys that I looked up to and heard stories about while going through training. These are the very men that encompass what it means to be a Navy SEAL or a Navy SWCC. I feel like many people have this idea about what and who Navy SEAL's and SWCC's are. They have this sort of expectation about the type of men they are. In reality though, while we are all professionals we aren't too far off from your everyday father, husband or son. Brandon said it best when he said that all of us part of Special Operations whether in the US or abroad are all cut from the same cloth. I think that just being able to come over to London and help out our brethren from the SAS was and will always be an incredible experience. They were so hospitable, entertaining, and kind hearted. Every single one of them. It is an experience that I will never forget. I hope that this event set the precedence to help in starting a dialogue about giving our troops the support they need when returning home. They really do need a lot of support. I was barely 18 when I enlisted, and I was off in a combat theater while I was still a teenager. While I don't struggle with PTSD, I know a lot of men and women who do. This isn't just a problem in the Special Operations community. It's an issue that expands throughout the whole military. I chose to donate to Mission 22, which is a charity that helps suicidal veterans or those struggling with depression or other anxiety disorders get back on their feet. 22 represents the number of veterans in America who kill themselves everyday due to these issues. I hope that by stepping in the ring and getting my nose broken helped people realize how much our troops deserve. Not only this, but if being a part of this event helped just one veteran who was struggling with what to do with his or her life, remember that they aren't forgotten, and there are people who still care about them, than I feel this was a major success. I am very excited about what Brandon and Phil are able to put together for the upcoming years. I will forever be a part of this event because I believe so deeply in what it stands for, and I am humbled to have been a part of it. All that is left to say is ,for all those who've been down range, to us, and those like us -- damn few. Cheers."

Interview with Aaron Rad Radl:

I'm blogging about the Remembrance Rumble and wanted to know if you don't mind please giving a quote about what you thought of it?

Sure! The Rememberance Rumble was a Spectacular showing of unity for the common good of Veterans Awareness on a Global Scale.

How you felt it went?

As the host for SofrepTV, I felt the Remembrance Rumble has set a precedence for charity boxing events world wide while focusing on Veterans and helping raise awareness for Veterans charities weather it's in the United Kingdom, USA, Denmark, Norway, Australia, Canada, IRAQ etc. Veterans come in all shapes, sizes and cultures.

Was it a good experience?

The Remembrance Rumble was a life changing event for my self and I know the fighters (Navy Seals, USMC, ARMY, USAF, SAS) would agree . The hospitality that the United Kingdom provided us, the hugs that everyone gave to one another, really set up a great enviornment for raising Veteran Awareness that Big Phil Campion, Brandon Webb, and all those involved in making this come to light (Graeme, Roger, Our Families)

How it will help veterans, through awareness etc in the US/UK?

This event will help veterans by letting them know we are fighting for them, we are them, we want all veterans to get a hand shake, a Job, Prosthetic limb, mental health, family benefits and home loans for all. I'm not saying joining the military should be your lottery ticket however, think of the workforce mental bearing for your military if they knew they had pensions and benefits waiting for them after they get done with their service agreement?

Are you excited about it coming to the US next year?

I am super stoked for the Remembrance Rumble to be here in the USA 2017, as the fighters, productions crews, security teams, and house staff know, we are here to raise awareness for all Veterans the Energy in infectious and everyone involved has a sense of pride in doing something selfless for the good of others. SO I see this happening here in America with the Remembrance Rumble here in 2017.


Phil Campion tells me what he wanted from the Remembrance Rumble: "We want to turn this into an annual fund raiser. We plan to fight in the States as well next year and then back here. Born fearless Boxing will also open events up to the rest of the vet community not just SF and hold events up and down the country."

The punchline at the end was a special one and you had to be there to see it! Who says Ex SAS men are always tough because that night we saw Big Phil's soft side. Being near the ringside at the end I did wonder why someone handed Phil a red rose 🌹 but then I clicked it had to be something to do with his partner Wendy. It was such an honour to be see Phil propose to Wendy and it was so romantic. When I first saw Wendy looking very surprised, it had shown that Phil obviously had kept it top secret and very apt with him being Ex SAS lol. It was lovely for everyone to be a part of their special moment and night! Wendy and Phil are such nice people and I wish them every success in the future and hope they have a fabulous wedding!


Art above by Ernie McGookin

11th November 2016

Doors Opened: 18:30

First Bell was: 20:00 (approx)

Thank you to the sponsors:

Copyright: The Sun 

 Our motto is "Stronger Together!" - Fight4Lives








Check out some of this Artist's work below around the subject of the Remembrance Rumble and Ex SAS and Navy Seals......the super talented artist is Ernie McGookin,,,,,

The AMERICAN RUMBLE will take place in May 2017!

There will be another REMEMBRANCE RUMBLE held in London again in November 2017!

I look forward to helping and supporting Fight4Lives and Born Fearless Boxing again sometime.

“Fight For Lives challenges you to fulfill your ambitions and aspirations.”

If you couldn't make the boxing match you can see it here below.....


Thursday, 8 September 2016

Interviews with inspiring people. #Paralympics2016 - Part 2.

  • 1) Briefly describe yourself & your disability. 

    I'm Sarah 31 originally from Lancashire now living in Coventry. I'm a Geography graduate, trained teacher and I run a charity called Sent with Love. http://blanketsswl.blogspot.co.uk https://www.facebook.com/pg/blanketssentwithlove/about/?ref=page_internal I've got MĂ©nière's disease, Neurofibromatosis type 1. Anxiety and depression, a brachial plexus injury, chronic fatigue amd spine/nerve damage from surgery for my cancer, a soft tissue sarcoma called MPNST. 2) Who encouraged/inspired you to do what you want in life? (or helped) 
    The person who inspired me the most was one of my teachers called Mr Ashcroft, he taught me that you don't have to be an *A star student to be successful and he gave me the confidence to do what I wanted.
    3) What's your biggest bug bare around the perception of disability? 
    That if you use a wheelchair you can't stand. People use wheelchairs for a variety of reasons, I'm able to stand and walk a very short distance but it leaves me in absolute agony so in order to enjoy time out the house I use a wheelchair.
    4) How do you think other people see your disability? 
    I think they don't understand it, I've very limited use of my left arm due to having a time removed from my brachial plexus (the nerves that control the arm and hand) sometimes my arm and hand work other times it doesn't. Which makes using my wheelchair very different. My closest friends are very kind about everything, they look after me well, driving me places as I currently can't drive due to a suspected seizure, and dropping me texts asking how I am, but as for the general public, I don't really care how they see me as long as they are not abusive and I've never experienced any kind of abuse so I'm very lucky.
    5) What would you like to see improved for those with disabilities? 
    Social care needs to be improved, I have care twice a day, once in the morning and once at lunch time but the times are so rigid they don't often work when I have hospital appointments or are having a crash week, where I can't get up I can sleep all day and. Wake up at 3pm to eat lunch I was given at 11.30. I also think pavements need to be improved, there's lots of pavements without drop kerbs or the drop kerbs don't line up on the other side so you are travelling in the middle of the road for a period of time and that's when the pavement is wide enough to use or not blocked by cars or street furniture.
    6) Where do you see yourself in 5 years time? 
    Hopefully in a new job, I'm hoping to go to university next year to study Occupational Therapy, so I hope that I will be working in a job that has given me so much personally since my cancer diagnosis.

    7) How would you inspire the next generation? 

    I hope through my Charity Sent with Love, we make blankets and send them to people diagnosed with cancer. I recently won the Pride of Coventry and Warwickshire Award fir this work, which I'm so proud of.

    1) Briefly describe yourself & your disability. 

     My name is Asa Marshal, I am 27 years old. I was born with a physical disability called ‘Cerebral Palsy’, which means I cannot use my limbs properly. I use a wheelchair and walking frame to get around, but can walk a little unaided too or with the help of someone’s arm, furniture etc. I also suffer from Dystonia, which means I have continuous involuntary movements (twitching / spasms) running throughout my body. Living with a physical disability can be a struggle at times, but I try not to let it hinder my goals and achievements. I am an Audio & Music graduate. I have been modeling since the age of 16. I was extremely fortunate to take part in the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympics in 2012. Won the title of ‘Miss Personality’ in a beauty pageant, and I run my own charity, ‘Achieving Strong Aims (A.S.A)’. A.S.A helps young adults (aged 18-30) with physical disabilities. We organise outings, informal seminars and thrill seeking activities for them. We also hold events in communities to raise awareness about disability in society

    2) Who encouraged/inspired you to do what you want in life? (or helped) 

     My family has always been the biggest support for me, especially my mum. They have always encouraged me to stand on my feet and fulfill all my hopes and desires regardless of my disability. They really have been my backbone through the good times and the hard times. I don’t know what I would do without them. My friends have also been a huge support to me, they encourage me, are always there when I need them, they help me in every way they possibly can, I can let my hair down and be crazy with them haha, etc. Again, I don’t know what I would do without my friends either. Both, my family and friends are amazing; they are the ones who help me get through life.

    3) What's your biggest bug bare around the perception of disability? 

     People who look down or pity you and assume that just because you have a disability, you aren’t able to do anything. They may assume that you can’t work, don’t have many friends, can’t have relationships, don’t go out etc, you don’t live a ‘normal’ life like others, or are startled when you do. I think people who are unaware or maybe don’t understand disability should be more open to asking questions, we don’t bite! Haha. Another bug bare is people who stare or don’t look at you at all when having a conversation. The worst is when they don’t talk to you directly; instead they ask the person who is with you. 

    4) How do you think other people see your disability?

     I would say it depends on the individual. Again, some people look down at you or pity you. Others see you as an inspiration or an incredibly brave person. I think people who actually know you closely or understand you, like friends or family, just see you as they would any other person. 

    5) What would you like to see improved for those with disabilities? 

     More awareness or education for society. I think people still need to be more aware of disability, what it is, how to interact with a person who has a disability. More disabled people in the media. More acceptance. 

    6) Where do you see yourself in 5 years time? 

     Ideally, I would like to settle down, get married and start a family, along with a successful running charity, modeling career and further exciting opportunities that I can be a part of. But as we all know, unfortunately things don’t always go the way we would like them to sometimes, so I just live each day as it comes and hope for the best. 

    7) How would you inspire the next generation? 

     I think things like the Paralympics, the athletes, the Invictus games and other people with disabilities who are in the media (like Ade Adepitan, RJ Mitte, Stephen Hawking, Francesca Martinez etc) are already an inspiration to many. I would like to think that I could be an inspiration too, along with all the other million disabled people that are out there; they are all an inspiration in my eyes

    8 ) Which sports do you look most forward to in the Paralympics? 

     I wouldn’t say I necessarily look forward to one specific sport in the Paralympics; I enjoy watching them all and find them all incredibly inspirational!


    1) I'm Clare 28 yrs old , I became a full time wheelchair user at the age of 13 due to a rare inherited condition called Ehlers danlos syndrome. It's an connective tissue disorder which can effect every part of the body including heart, lungs, GI system. For me EDS affects my joints so I get dislocations, subluxations etc, eyes, lungs, heart, GI system -oesophagus, stomach and bowels are affected. 

    2) Since getting my canine partner assistance dog I've found he's the one that encourages me to do more/want more in life.
    3) My biggest bug bare around the preception of disability to be that we're incapable of being intelligent especially for wheelchair users.
    4) My disability is quite visible although I look normal, I assume people think I just can't use my legs which is far from how bad my condition is.
    5) More equality and more opportunities.better housing. I'm a disabled person with an assistance dog I would like to have more education on assistance dogs for the general public.

    6) Hopefully moved to Aylesbury to be nearer to family (family had to move an hour away because of the bedroom tax) working part time and fingers crossed in a relationship. 
    7) Any opportunity that comes your way take it , have an CAN DO attitude always try your best. 
    8 ) Archery. I love archery I had a few lessons and really enjoyed it unfortunately the club wasn't accessible to me so couldn't take it up as a sport but if I find a club which is accessible id be there all the time. 
    I performed in London 2012 as a wheelchair dancer (gravity part or as I call it the bit with all the apples). I had never performed before or been involved in anything to do with dance so I was a little nervous going to the first rehearsal but I shouldn't have worried it was AMAZING from the very first rehearsal I enjoyed every minute making new friends learning the dance routine which we had fun making and just being involved in something so special definitely an amazing experience one I would of said once in a lifetime but this year on 2nd of September I got the pleasure to be in the Paralympic heritage flame opening ceremony at stoke Mandeville this time I was performing with my canine partner assistance dog Griffin who made the experience even more special. Again we made so many friends and had so much fun making a dance routine adding doggy hi fives and bows for Griffin to do and he loved it. It was live on channel 4 and we even got a personal mention. An experience I will never forget.

    My name is Gemma and I'm 33yrs young. I'm a Liverpool girl who loves everything glamorous and who's life is now completely different than I ever could imagine it. In 2011, I became ill with an illness called Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS). At the time I was loving life as cabin crew without a care, then over night I had everything that we all take for granted was taken away from me. My body began to shut down and become paralysed, starting with my hands and feet. Over a few days I lost complete function of my body and was reliant on others for everything. This was followed by months of intensive rehabilitation to retrain my body to do everyday things like swallowing and talking. My body was damaged through the GBS and now 5yrs later I'm still living with the the effects. I'm unable to stand or walk unaided and now rely on a wheelchair and the occasional wobble on crutches to get around. Despite all this, I'm probably in the happiest place I have ever been for many reasons and I have learnt so much about myself.

    I have always had the most amazing family and friends around me, who have always been there supporting me in everything I do. This was tested to the limits throughout my illness and recovery and has shown me further how lucky I am to have the people I do in my life. My parents especially! No parent should ever have to see their child suffer at any age, and be told life changing news about them. My parents not only watched me go through everything, but they also were the strength behind my recovery. Nothing was ever or is still ever too much. I am eternally grateful for my family and friends. My now fiancé, Neil, is literally my rock! He constantly gives me the unconditional love and support to carry on and to find the positives in what have been some extreme negatives. Neil has only ever known me as I am now, disabilities and all, and he loves me as I am...who could ask for anything more!?!
    I discovered an organisation called Models of Diversity a number of years ago, when I really was at a low point. I struggled accepting my new body, it's limitations and it's not so appealing appearance.
      © Copyright - Angel Sinclair/ Models of Diversity.
    I met the CEO Angel Sinclair, who literally is the most amazing woman, who truly helped me in a journey of acceptance. I was still myself, just in a slightly different form. I learnt to embrace my body and all its lumps and bumps, and I honestly have more confidence now than I ever did before. 
      © Copyright - Angel Sinclair/ Models of Diversity.
    Angel set up Models of Diversity to bring about a much needed change within the fashion industry. Ever since it was set up MOD have gone from strength to strength, promoting equality within a very segregated industry. Modelling now as a disabled model helped me to come to terms with everything that had happened to me and to put it to good use in a really positive way. I love showing others that if I can overcome adversity and do something positive then others can too. I love breaking down boundaries and proving people wrong, which is why I have been so involved with MOD. Change will happen!
    I have had sooooooo many ridiculous comments over the years that I would never in a million years even dream of saying to anyone. Comments like, "you don't look disabled", "your too pretty to be in a wheelchair", or people basically asking if I can have sex?!?! They are just the tip of the iceberg as people wouldn't believe half the stuff people with disabilities have to deal with on a daily basis! Don't get me wrong, it's not everyone, I'd say it's probably around 60% of people have a very warped view and opinion of people with disabilities. Talking about us as if we are all the same, or presume what we can and can't do without giving us a chance. I think people sometimes view me and others as someone that you should feel sorry for or feel bad for. When we want the total opposite! I personally don't want to be pityed, I'd rather shock the hell out of someone, which I often do. I really could go on forever about this! I basically hate people's misconceptions that are based on things wrongly portrayed in media etc. We are all still human beings and individuals with our own minds, opinions and feelings, and should not be generalised. With the work that MOD do, we try to change people's opinions of disability and show it in a whole new light to make people stop and think, 'there's a beautiful girl modelling, rather than, 'there's a girl in a wheelchair'. It's all about seeing individuals as just that....individuals!
    I'm currently planning my wedding to my amazing handsome hunk of a fiancĂ© Neil. It's so exciting thinking that I am marrying the man of my dreams. It took me a while to get my head around being a disabled bride, but I have now totally embraced it now. It's the beginning of a new chapter in our lives and hopefully the next fives years will see us take on new challenges as husband and wife and hopefully as a mother and a father. This will be the best and most worthwhile challenge of all, seeing how I am as a mum who just happens to have a few disabilities.
    I want my experiences and what I've been through to be a benefit in any way possible. I hate the word inspiration when talking about myself, but I would love to show others that if I can overcome my life totally changing then they can too. What ever their adversity may be!! Life is made up of so many beautifully diverse individuals that should be embraced in every way. Fashion and media is something that is so influential, yet it's not fully representatives. Diversity is part of life and it should be portrayed in the same way.
    The Paralympics are something that has a massive impact on people ever since London four years ago. The athletes are seen as the athletes they are, and are celebrated as heroes in the same way the Olympic athletes are. I love every part of the Paralympics and it's events, but more than that I love how it puts disability in the forefront of the media in such a positive, strong and empowering way. Youngsters with disabilities now have people they can aspire to be like and whom they can empathise with. The only issue is, is in keeping the momentum going after the Paralympics finish and the hype dies down. Disability is part of life every single day for millions of people yet it's only really celebrated and empowered every four years! This is what we need to change!
    © Copyright - Angel Sinclair/ Models of Diversity.


    Laura Jones

    I’m Laura. I’ve been a professional dancer with Stopgap Dance Company since 2001 and I am now the interim Artistic Director of the company.  I had a spinal bleed when I was 16 which left me paralysed from the chest down, so I now use a wheelchair, including for dancing.

    Who encouraged/inspired you to do what you want in life? (or helped)
    When I was newly injured, my tutors at college played a great role in helping me to return to dancing and continue with my A Levels. I also had huge support from family and friends.  Now, I am encouraged to continue with my dancing partly because I love it and can’t imagine doing anything else, but also because it gives me the opportunity to inspire others, to be a role model and make a positive difference.

    What's your biggest bug bare around the perception of disability? 
    There seems to be 2 extremes to people’s perceptions of disabled people.  We are either “super humans” and “inspiration porn”, or we are “benefit scroungers” and a drain on society. When most of the time we are just normal people trying to go about our everyday lives, but facing more challenges and barriers than most people have to deal with.  I also get frustrated with the way my life seems to be public property;  I’m always getting random strangers asking me personal questions, before they’ve even asked my name!
    I think people who know me see me as very positive, successful, who doesn’t let my disability stop me from doing things, but in truth, I still have bad days and struggles.  There are days when my disability stops me from going out or doing what I want to do.  

    What would you like to see improved for those with disabilities? 
    There is still so much that needs to be done. Unfortunately we are a long way off from being a fully accessible and inclusive society. It’s not just about pphysical access to things like buildings and transport (which is still far behind where we should be)but also access to opportunities, whether it’s education, work, activates or social, there are many barriers that disabled people face every day.    
    The Paralympics are going a long way to change people’s perceptions of disability and what is achievable with the right support, but it’s sad that after it is all over, things seem to go back to the way they were.

    How would you inspire the next generation?
    I’m really lucky that I can inspire the next generation through my work.  Both with performing and teaching dance to people with and without disabilitiesties, it opens people perceptions of what is possible, and can inspire them to push their own boundaries of what they think they can achieve.
    Recently, I was honoured to be asked to choreograph the Heritage Flame Ceremony, to celebrate Stoke Mandeville as the birth place of the Paralympics, and to light the Paralympic Flame to send to Rio.  There was a cast of about 100, which included all sorts of people from different ages, abilities, back grounds and dance experience (or lack of!).    Everyone was super enthusiastic and it was an amazing atmosphereI was pleased I was able to show them, and the audience, what is achievable through inclusive dance.

    Which sports do you look most forward to in the Paralympics?
    I’m loving watching everything from the Paralympics, especially the swimming and the wheelchair tennis. I have to admit, I’ve found it much more interesting to watch than the Olympics, there’s so much drama, and hearing some of the background stories of the para-athletes gives a feeling of connection to the action, when you realise some of the challenges they have been through to get to where they are. Plus the whole of Paralympics GB are doing amazingly well, getting so many medals, it’s so exciting to watch!

    About Stopgap Dance Company - “Difference is our means and our method”

    Stopgap Dance Company creates exhilarating dance productions for national and international touring. We employ disabled and non-disabled artists who find innovative ways to collaborate.
    Stopgap value a pioneering spirit and are committed to making discoveries about integrating disabled and non-disabled people through dance.


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