Thursday, 3 January 2019

Number 5 of 'Five Things I'm Proud of in 2018' (These fab folk)

Throughout my childhood, the only film I ever cried at was 'A Little Princess' (which is truly traumatic at any age!). These days, though, I'm completely soppy and whenever I'm happy or proud of someone - even if it isn't someone I know! - I'm in floods!

So, here are some of the people that have made me cry, in a good way, this year. I've had to use some generalisations/fake names for safeguarding reasons and/or to spare certain people embarrassment!

Article after Ella's amazing success at the British Championships.
I foolishly read this article again just now, and it's made me cry again. Ella is just one of the most wonderful people I've ever met. She has a million and one challenges to face but she always smiles and, often without people really noticing, blows people away with her talent and determination. Many of you will know that we try not to use the 'i' word too often, but Ella really is inspiring. She's just brilliant. Her family are pretty awesome too!

My school gymnastics club
In September 2018 I began a gymnastics club at school. The children ranged in age from 8-11, and ranged in experience from lots to none! They all achieved so much, and so much more than any of us predicted, including the gymnasts themselves.

Some of the members have special needs, and these were the ones who improved the most. A Year 4 girl proved herself the strongest in the entire club. A year 5 boy who dislikes PE and suffers from near-constant anxiety in school was soon gleefully launching himself at the ground from the top of the vaulting horse, before racing around to climb back up for another go!
I was so excited to give them their awards!
They all learned new skills, but I was most proud of how they supported each other. They recognised that different things were special to different people, and cheered enthusiastically no matter what the accomplishment because they were just so proud of each other. They're a fab bunch.

Next term will be tougher - there will be twice as many of them! 

Fiona, Julie, Hayley... and more!
These guys are all some of my colleagues and they're all amazing. Fiona helps me with the gymnastics club, and with basically everything in life. She's a brick and I couldn't be without her. Julie is my go-to for so many problems and queries; she always wants the best for the children and is often a welcome voice of reason. Hayley - well, Hayley is incredible. She's had a hellish year and I just hope that 2019 is better for her. What she does for the children and for me is impossible to overstate!

Contessa vaulters
I've been coaching at Contessa since about April 2018 and I love it there. At first I was nervous about going to a new place and how it would feel, but slotting in as a coach felt really easy because everyone there has been so kind and welcoming. I'm proud of all our little vaulters (and bigger ones!) who work so hard every week and never shy away from a job. They're brill.
Saffron Walden RDA
I started coaching here (I refer to it as SWRDA, pronounced 'swardyé'!) at the end of 2017. At the end of the academic year we switched quite a few of our riders, so I've worked with a fair few now. As you would expect from RDA, they are all such interesting little people and I'm so proud of them every single week. Life isn't easy for any of them but every week they turn up excited to be there and eager to get going.

To see a child who 'can't concentrate' focussing so completely on a task, or one who 'won't listen' take in and follow detailed instructions, or one who 'doesn't talk' chatting happily to their pony, their leader, the sidewalkers, anyone who passes by... well, it makes my heart swell.
A SWRDA fund-raising event - I was very grateful to young Charley for sitting on me and keeping me warm!

Cambs College RDA Vaulters
In the absence of real horses in autumn 2018, at Cambs College we used two substitutes - a mechanical horse (which connects to a TV screen so you can ride in the park or do a dressage test) and my vaulting barrel, Tintin.

Most of the vaulters had never tried vaulting before - ever. Some of them were terrified. ALL of them were fantastic. Kodie stands out in particular - she just quietly achieves everything you ask of her. Kate has also done well, moving from thinking she probably wouldn't be able to do anything to realising she's actually pretty good at this stuff! Emily has always been amazing and, happily, still is. She learned a shoulder hang in about 30 seconds then said, "You can let go of me now, Lizzie. I'm fine!" - and she was. Carly can let go and did an amazing lying down move! Jodie worked her way up to bench by herself for the first time after weeks of effort. Chloe was a legend despite a fear of heights. Claire did beautiful compulsories.

During the sessions I was pretty busy just working with the vaulters, but seeing photos afterwards made me want to cry - especially this one.

Claire: check her out on instagram (@wheeliehungry). 2018 was a great year for her, with some fantastic race results. After a crummy couple of years it's been so great to see what she can do when she isn't stuck in hospital!  

Rick: aka Mr ParaCheer (OK, I just decided that, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks of him as that!). He and his cheer partner, Chantal, are conquering the world and transforming it for the better as they go. More info here!

Abbi: I'm just speechless when it comes to Abbi which, on a blog, looks like this: you can learn most of what you need to know from her twitter page. (But what you don't necessarily get from that is that she's so much FUN!)

Evie: Again, so much amazingness. Publishing a book from hospital, meeting royalty, representing GB, surviving...! Here's a particularly fab one.

Hannah: my sister-in-law, who ran the London Marathon in 2018 (basically the hottest and least pleasant race they've had in a long old time) for Whizz-Kidz.

Matt: Matt's had an amazing year! He's won two lots of national showjumping championship titles, won the RDA Dressage Anywhere Grade 4 event, and took part in the inaugural British Dressage ID Championship. He's busy as an RDA volunteer too - read more here.

Edwin: a vaulter (and rider) from Colombia who just happens to be a double amputee (a war injury). Could it be any more awesome? He and his peeps over in South America are making para vaulting more and more international, including travelling to CVI Buenos Aires!

Katie: Katie won the Pre-Novice title at the British Vaulting Championships in 2017. Come 2018, she'd moved up to 1* level and had competed for GB. She also, somehow, did her GCSEs at the same time and is a very, very lovely person! She's not really big on the whole social media game so here's a lovely picture of her (in 2017) to make up for no link. 😊

And, of course, I'm proud of a whole bunch of others! Basically everyone I know makes me proud of them regularly. I'm so lucky to know so many amazing people and to have so many fabulous, kind-hearted, determined, talented and FUN people in my life!

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