week 103 – busy, amazing, inspired

Some times you just need to chill, reset and think, back to when I first started volunteering at 16 years old, to 1996 and the promises I made to myself if I survived all of that, to when I first held my first niece, the first time I held my children. I have children, nieces, nephews and godchildren, all of whom I have made promises.

I have made mistakes, I am after all human, there are stories around them, to judge me is your right but without context I would question your opinion. At times my motivation has faltered, I get exhausted by the world, but I do believe we each have the power to bring about change, no matter how small, and together we can be unstoppable.

I choose who I work with and who I invite to each event, on each project carefully, most definitely one of the great advantages of having created Integr8archery CIC. On my tired days, it would be easy to stay in the house and hide, I have after all been known to do that for many months, so I pull on my shoes and I visit a group on those days, because seeing the impact of what I am trying to do always, always motivates me to stand up and do more.

Review meeting held this week, some decisions made to change, adjust some things and for a couple of groups the consideration that we may have to end them, the work cannot all be mine, sustainability is the focus, support set up, mentor and hand it all over, if that’s not happening I do have to consider why and what I need to do.

Overall the reviews have shown amazing things, and there have been meetings about new groups and events, the coming months are going to be bust and hopefully full of fun.

Inclusion and accessibility sum up the majority of what I am aiming for, allowing individuals to try new activities with dignity and adapting the sport not the person is what’s important to me, I, along with those who work with me strive for these things.

Swinging in the park, chatting with young people, watching amazing students in their school performance show how their differences do not hold them back, and that they can be themselves freely, inspires me to step towards the 3rd year of integr8archery with passion and inspiration.

Spending time with my county team mates, chatting with people who know me in sport, out of sport, an amazing message from someone I mentored for 3 years in my workplace about what I gave them and how that impacts how they live life now – wow! I can be my best version of me and step forward into 24/25.

Busy few weeks at work, transitions for young people in whom I can see how amazing they are, worth being shattered to support them when life hits bumps in the road.

Got to get some work done on my bow this coming week ready for Dunster!

Catch you on the range my friends ❤️🏹

Week 102, studying and my own arrows

Fast hurtling to that 2nd birthday for Integr8archery CIC and I have added the number save from the few that will be added in the next two weeks. Though the anniversary is 28/6/24 I will use the 25/6/24 blog for the birthday announcement.

This week was just the steady delivery of ongoing projects nothing extra as I had been aware it was a big week for my PBS course, portfolio finished, handed in and presentation done! Strange when you consider how many hours I have spent in court being questioned by the defence, how anxious standing in a room of my peers and assessors became, but I think it was all good so now to wait and see if my grades see me become a practise leader 🤞🏻

Anyone who knew me in 2000 knows about my accident in lockdown, falling on a tree I was cutting down in the garden and impaling my leg on it and the issues that resulted. Thursday I had a clumsy accident and hurt the injury, ended up having it looked at due to the swelling, bruising, pain and sensation issues in my leg and foot. I was advised to rest, elevate for 6 weeks and help it heal, and no shooting. Well that’s not going to work for me is it! When recovering in 2000 I only sat whilst it was immobilised!

So Friday evening I took myself off to the range to see how 60 arrows might feel and made the decision that I was going to shoot on Sunday. Sunday was to be a 2 part competition, the inter county Ivy Keating, I was shooting for Northants v Bedfordshire, always a good day as they are very similar in attitude to us. Sunday morning as I did my physio exercises by arm couldn’t quite hit shoulder height, well as categories use cumulative scores, even a poor score might be useful and certainly better than a DNS on the squad list so off I set with Rose who had asked if she could spend the day with me. It’s literally years, pre Covid since anyone wanted to just come with me to a shoot, she packed some school worked and refused the offer of a place to shoot.

The weather was blooming cold and much more like winter than summer! But much fun was had and though we lost overall it was definitely worth the effort.

Remember I said it was a double competition? It was also the second Bob Fricker memorial shoot and this brought more great friends from around the county to the range and added to the spirit of the day. I came away with a gold medal as the only senior compound lady, the rest were over 50 or juniors 🫣 a little embarrassing considering the dreadful score but I guess I earned it🤔🤪

Lots of pain by the end of the day but nothing new and after all it’s what all the various changes of the last several years have been about.

If you recall I set myself a deadline in spring regarding if I stay or leave the sport and I am almost halfway to deadline day, 30th September, I have some firm thoughts around my possible decision and I am certainly no longer hopeful that the against me will be resolved, it is impacting the work I do with juniors and what I am currently offering but I have worked around it to some degree with local clubs and I am thankful for their support. It remains incredibly difficult for me having it hanging there, my mental health being impacted and the irony remains that it’s safeguarding holding it there and therefore impacting me!

Anyhow that’s this week’s update, a great week, with great friends and something of a wound creating issues for my leg and another for my headspace.

Have a good week folks and I will see you soon for sure 😊❤️🏹

Week 101 – what a great week 🥰

As always it’s been a busy busy week. 4 events delivered and I am blessed that I have great coaches who work with me 😊

I very much enjoyed the day at Kingswood Urban Development Project, young people get spoken about harshly and society seems to expect the worst from them. I am privileged to work with young people who enjoy sharing their sport with other young people.

I am always careful when choosing who I want to deliver for every group and one of the most important things for me is acceptance, equality diversity and inclusion is at the heart of everything we do.

This week has seen us deliver a combination of soft and pointy archery to 118 people, some open groups and some SEND specific but many different ages. A bunch of meetings too and I am particularly excited to be adding some soft archery for a group of seniors who like to be active on weekends.

I love sharing our sport and showing that it is so adaptive and excludes no one! ❤️🏹

Also finished everything for submission for my course tomorrow and the presentation is all ready to go, 🤞🏻 for the assessment and I pass, the waiting will bother me as always so I apologise now to anyone who listens to me get impatient whilst I wait on the results 😜

Thank you as always for the patience for my 1 weekend in 4, lots of hours and some intense moments saw me sleep when I got home to recover and I managed to wake up shortly before a meeting 😱

Have a good week and remember in just a few weeks it will be the second anniversary for Integr8archery CIC so if you need an excuse for cake, there it is 😜🎂 I shall be celebrating in the weekly blog for 104 weeks but the actual date will be 28/6/24 🥳

May 28th 2024 or week 100!!!

Wow! 100 weeks!!

This has been a crazy week between getting my portfolio and presentation ready for assessment in the first week of June, dealing with meetings and project reviews, including a couple of transatlantic calls. Alway exciting to hear how the young people there are getting on! Super proud.

Went north for a couple of days for mum’s birthday, family time is always amazing and you are all well in the routine that I give one weekend in 4 that I am there – thank you as always 🥰

Not much to share really as a lot of this weeks has been behind the scenes but week 101 has loads going on including the work weekend so a reminder that from Friday afternoon I will be unavailable until late Monday.

Thank you for the photos and updates I have had sent over and the kind thoughts when I had to withdraw from my competition on Sunday. 🤗

Have a good week catch you soon ❤️🏹

Week 99 – last of the double figures😜❤️🏹

wow! It never ceases to amaze what I achieve, my brave step in setting up the CIC and believing in myself – protecting everything from everyone and carefully choosing who I will and will not work with – it’s paid off and I am so very excited as I approach my second anniversary.

Massive decisions to make come October but I shall plough on until then. It is these anniversaries when I really feel the loss of my dad, our weekly chats about my little business were a highlight of my week and there have been so many more weeks without him than with him. His opinion was priceless and I did talk in those last few weeks about what his ear meant to me, and we talked of my future plans and it does mean a lot that I can still hear him as I continue to achieve things.

Saturday I woke to the news that one of the coaches had their vehicle broke into overnight and amongst the things taken was my arrows kit which the coach had used to deliver an event for me and was coming to return for me to use on Sunday. No blame on the coaches part but for a little while there I thought I would have to cancel an event I was doing Sunday as I had a double shift Saturday that would prevent me going out to source kit. However a local scout group lent me kit and Sunday saw me deliver to 11 young people who attend a local church group – church jam which is about friendship. The group included ages 5 to 15 and some SEND adaptations. I met some amazing young people and we had a great time.

Not had much time for my own shooting due to work and study commitments, last classroom session before I hand in my portfolio and do my presentation for the level 5 so a lot of work to do in the next 2 week to ensure I have done the best I can do before completing the classroom session to be able to teach and lead as a practitioner if I pass my assessments! 🤞🏻

Meetings this week to plan and review new and existing events and projects.

Have an amazing week and I hope to see you soon, thank you to those who keep me up to date with how you are doing 😊

week 98 for Integr8archery CIC, or my personal 2nd anniversary ☕️🎂

It is mental health awareness week.

I don’t hide my issues with mental health, anxiety, panic attacks a diagnosis of PTSD, and so many different issues that are stress related from migraine, IBS to alopecia. If I had the right support earlier in my life maybe I could have found myself in a better place, we’ll never know. What I absolutely would say is talk to someone, I remember feeling so doubtful every time anyone suggested therapy, how would talking about any of it help? So I took many, many years to become open to the idea. The turning point for me was sitting at work, absolutely convinced I was having a heart attack and this was it, but it was a panic attack, scarily similar in symptoms. So almost 9 years ago I agreed to a referral and met the most amazing woman in my counsellor. She was not what I imagined and I fast learned that actually we chatted some every week, but I got a lot of homework every week, the majority of the work to mend, heal, find my methods was my work to do. Surprisingly but also absolutely made sense, because on the day to day it would be me, myself and I getting through each day. The tools to go forward were mine but I can contact here when I need to, periodically I find I need a conversation with her, may be a couple of sessions.

16th May 2022 – I was passed that stage, in such a dark and low place that I decided this was to be my last day. The people I love, care about, would find the world an easier place if I was not here to burden them. A voice from 1996 was now interwoven with a recent voice, my best friend, who had spent 7 months destroying me verbally, constantly telling me I had no place in life, in my sport, no value to anyone for anything. When someone you trust so much, who knows you so well, uses all of that to destroy you, the damage hits deeper, buries inside your mind, becomes a living nightmare.

However someone, in the universe felt a vibe that day, neither of us understand what or how, but she knew something was different that day, she and a small number of others had kept me going for those 7 months, when I woke up screaming in the night, when I was literally laying on the floor unable to breathe or when I just cried, and cried and couldn’t stop the tears. This day, it was different and the universe nudged her, and she saved me, but much like my counsellor – I did the work, she stood beside me, but I did the work. I survived that day because of her, because she heard the universe shift that day. Without a doubt the hospital played their part and I am grateful to them all.

That small band of friends and family, 9 people stronger than an army have never faltered, and I am blessed to be able to add another 8 people who have played key roles in the last 2 years, it takes a village. My village is fearless.

Here I stand 2 years to the day, stronger, changed, with the odd wobble, but ready to meet every day. Some days I am sad, I. miss the old me, but I have pieces of her that I keep safe, maybe one day she will be brave enough to face the world, but I love my village and they make sure I laugh every day. I have spent 28 years finding the sliver of positive in every day, I made myself some promises in 1996, I believe every day holds a smile and something positive, so I focus on finding those, some days are hard but I have survived them all so far 🤗

What else has happened this week? Meetings, lots of them, I love telling people that what they want is achievable.

I shot my first outdoor competition of the season, score was poor, but that was anticipated and my score made me laugh – 666 😂😈🤘 About half way through the second distance I started to enjoy myself too, bonus 🤪 and some of my village were there and my wider circle, lots of hugs too ❤️🏹

Classroom day yesterday, now to get my portfolio completed and my presentation done ready for the last classroom day in June and then the wait to see if I have passed my assessments. I can honestly say, if someone suggests a level 5 equivalent course in 4 months, think hard it’s a heavy commitment, not helped by everything else I am doing of course 😜

I hope you are all well, I hope that you are all looking after yourself, if you need anything – reach out, there are lots of people who will help 🤗

week 97 – busy one

Wow, it’s been a busy one! In everything but I have a couple of rest days from the day job and have crammed these full of meetings and calls, yesterday was awesome catching up with people who want to introduce archery to their groups, families, SEND, disabilities, teenagers with challenging behaviour …. So many different groups to be catered for and from 1 off sessions to sustainable activities, such a lot to look forward to over the coming months. Exciting and as always it all gets me bouncing and motivated, I will worry about the other stuff later, I can be doing amazing things whilst we wait.

Prepping for my first competition of the outdoor season is the thing that’s suffered as I kind of expected really, try as I might I always give to others before I take for me, though I have a little time set aside for me later today so that will be good.

Proud of my girlie who has battled through her mocks despite everything and we are beginning to get bits of news health wise, though it’s lots of – it’s not rather than it is, which isn’t helping get the information that we need for here yet. Her determination blows me away though and I am in awe of her. 🥰

Short but sweet for me this week as I go off to another meeting and then try and get sight marks for Sunday! I mean they would certainly help 🤔🤷‍♀️🫣 easing myself in though by entering the 50+ category, definitely a sense of mischief having discovered some people that this annoys since I am 49! 😂 it’s even been suggested that as I was on the working group who looked at categories and ages that I did this to benefits myself, sure the NGB let me change the national system just for my benefit 🫣😜

Have a good one folks and I hope your outdoor seasons are all getting off to a good start ❤️🏹

Week 96 -prioritising the right things

I think this is going to be the badge I wear for 2024.
I am going to remember it and repeat it daily because I think the fight is going to really pick up this year.

what fight? The one I stepped into in 2019, it seems like a lifetime ago, in part because the whole Covid lockdowns and the timeline disruption that brought with it, but also, because it is!

I have been involved in the world of safeguarding since I first volunteered as a 16 year old, but little did I realise how over the next 33 years it would become increasingly part of what I do, in the day job and in a variety of volunteer roles.

I see it as the most important role I have aside from being a parent, which is essentially a kind of safeguarding in its own way.

I have a number of qualifications within it and I study constantly to improve my knowledge in ways to support those who come to me. Safeguarding is a privilege as I essentially step into someone’s world when they are in their most vulnerable place. Though I also do a lot of work to help improve knowledge to prevent issues, equally important.

Within my sport I have been a club safeguarding officer in a variety of places since 2017, some I still hold, and regional safeguarding officer since 2019, sometimes being part of the safeguarding team for Archery GB at competitions.

Most issues that come to me are resolved simply, some take more work, and some of what I do is to support other safeguarding officers. I don’t get to speak about what I do due to GDPR, rightly so.

However the biggest issue I have been dealing with has been an open case for me since 2019 when I was first asked to get involved, and believe me repeated conversations, meetings and discussions with NGB, outside agencies, and athletes and coaches have seen this grow to involve so many people, and covers 14 years worth of information that I have been given.

I have a variety of opinions as to how some of the issues have happened, some is a culture where habits are taught to the next person and the next and so on, some is outright bullying. Regardless it all needs changing, acknowledgement and ownership is required to even begin to bring about change. Other sports have gone through similar and some are still going through their process, I believe that all sports have something similar, created by habits and attitudes that were once allowed that are no longer acceptable. There is no shame in holding up your hands and saying we have a problem, and we are going to make changes, shame will only come from hiding it, refusing to change it and allowing it to continue.

It might be hard, and for a while a bit rocky, change always is and this is huge, but there are so many amazing people in our sport who will work to do this given the opportunity.

For some it will be easier to try and throw dirt back, I am ready for that, it isn’t new after all, it’s been happening for 5 years already, it just may get louder and more public. There is a limit to what and how I will respond, because those who matter to me personally know me and enough about what is happening. What I will say is my day job taught me a very long time ago to evidence gather, and I keep every message across every platform and they will allow me to always know my truth and to remind myself when necessary of that truth, like they did in 21/22.

It is almost mental health week and so it is always fitting to consider my own, I have PTSD, anxiety, panic attacks and a form of acrophobia. 2022 – 16th May was almost my last day as I reached the maximum level of destruction that had been bore down on me for the previous 7 months, add to I was trying to support people who were themselves dealing with their own massive mental health issues.

It has been incredibly hard because I cannot discuss so very much of this, and that makes it harder still.

I am certainly stronger that I have been for a very long time, though I am exhausted by all of this, but I agreed to be referred to Sports Resolutions because that is the very last place I can take this, and I do have to know that I have tried every avenue in this long and weary battle but one that is so vitally important for the benefit of everyone from grassroots to elite. The last 18 months has seen me hearing from a number of people that I need to take this to the media, it’s how some sports have managed to bring about change, I have a variety of conflicting feelings about such action.

I do want to thank those who have stood by me, supporting me, those who got me through 2022 and a couple of amazing safeguarding officers who have allowed me to talk with them, for the hardest part of safeguarding is having no ability to speak of what we are carrying, they have been limited conversations but enough for me to breathe,

I am proud of everyone who has shared their experiences with me, the ones who now carry long term issues even if they have walked away from the sport that took such a huge cost, athletes and coaches. That people have felt that I have helped and who trust me enough to bring others to me is humbling and some days, most days, I wing a lot of what I do, supporting people is different for each individual and using my training, my experience and thinking outside the box has got me, and them, through a lot.

My therapist is worth her weight in gold as she has supported me through my struggles but helped me carry this too.

A few months ago, one of these amazing young people started to say things publicly, slowly, about their battles. I am immensely proud of her and I know she struggles to see herself as those of us who know her see her.

Today, on a very important anniversary of her own she has publicly released a poem that explains a little of what she has gone through, braver than me right there, I have been writing thoughts, letters, poems through my therapy for 8 years and I know how vulnerable those writings are, so to release one publicly is a truly brave step.

I asked if I could share it and I have on instagram and now I share it here, Ruby Paul you are so very much stronger than you realise and what you have put out there today will resonate and help so many not just in Archery but across other sports too 😘 it is a privilege to know you and we love you dearly.


Week 95 – busy but productive

We seem to have had pretty much all of the weathers this week! It’s a good job we archers like to dress like onions 🧅

Level 3 assignment passes with 85/100 I feel happy about that! Work for the level 5 feels like it’s going well and I have a classroom day today so will hopefully get some feedback to make sure I am on the right track.

Actually managed to shoot some of my own arrows and watch both of my children shooting some arrows, it’s rare I see Jack shoot, he coaches regularly at his club and for integr8archery bit his love for his own shooting was taken from him through poor coaching, maybe with time that will come back, I hope so. Rose continues to blow me away with her attitude to shooting with everything that is going on with her health but she keeps putting down master bowman scores so she’s certainly remaining motivated.

I have had meetings, lots of meetings this week. Some for ongoing projects some with individuals wanting linking to their local clubs to try or start the sport and a couple of groups who want something putting on, all exciting.

Short and sweet this week, hope you are doing well I love hearing how you are doing so drop me a line and remember I am here if you want me ❤️🏹

Who is in charge of your goals? You are! Who judges if/when you have achieved them? You do!

I have had a couple of conversations this week which have made me think of a number of other conversations that I have had over the last 6 years. So since I have mulled it over and it’s still rattling in my head I thought I would share my thoughts.

If you know me then you know I have a number of issues that impact me, in archery but actually every day in life. Pain! Lots of it dictates my mobility and range of movement but I have spent my life ignoring it, pushing it to one side as I refuse to allow it to prevent me doing things.

In part this mindset is definitely how I was raised, I grew up surrounded by people who just got on with it, simply didn’t even mention their bad days.

If I had given in to pain I would have sat down as a toddler and stayed there 🤔

I have written blogs before about how my body deteriorating means I have to change or quit:

when this was first published the response took me by surprise, when it was re-published the same happened, I know I am not the only archer who has to face change to stay in the sport we love, but it’s not easy! Certainly helps to have support, particularly as people seem very happy to share their negative thoughts with me about my right to be on the range!

I followed the re-published blog with an update:

This indoor season saw me face new change! It never ends, if I want to keep one step ahead of my body then I have to keep re-thinking how to shoot and I am blessed that my physio friend and the county captain have never given up on me, though without a doubt they both have learned over the years that I am stubborn and crazy 🤪

My entire life has been about reaching goals and always, with anything, the biggest part is – be the best that I can be, I may not know what that means or how to measure or predict it, but with everything, work, school, sport ….. I have always been prepared to dig in and work, most of my achievements have been scrappy and fought for.

So spring 2018 I completed my beginners course with the belief that I could likely get 2 years out of my broken body. I made decisions and chose 4 competitions that I would enter for my first outdoor season as I set my sights on a 3rd class – classifications were really the only thing I could convince myself to judge myself on, when you start something new and have no clue what you are capable it, where do you start with your goals?

I entered a lot more competitions than I had planned and made it onto the county squad, I earned my second class and I was so upset! I had set my goal of a 3rd so that 2nd should have been amazing, but I had put in 2 1st class scores and a bunch that were just a few points each off 1st so instead of being happy I had achieved more than my goal I was upset that I only saw that I had failed on the 1st class!

Indoors was a new challenge and I wanted to use my outdoor achievements to set my indoor goal, but I was repeatedly advised it was the same at all so I was a little unsure but aimed to do my best! 2018/19 saw me get an F.

Outdoor 2019 – another 2nd! Along with the knowledge that the pain was seeing more and more competitions leave me crying on the floor as I often couldn’t move due to pain at the end of the day!

Indoor 19/20 – E, moving in the right direction but also sitting and agreeing to data gather as the stool was really looking unavoidable.

Outdoor 2020 – 2nd class, considering the Covid restrictions I was happy to get in enough scores to get anything, particularly as I was transitioning to seated. No, it’s not the same but sat!

Indoor 20/21 – D class, and I was learning to accept the stool and an agent, neither came easily!

Outdoor 2021 – finally settled with the stool 1st!! Amazing, hard work and determination and I finally had that little piece of shiny metal in my hand!

Indoor 21/22 – D – I was happy but really starting to want that C!

Outdoor 2022 – another 1st class!

This one felt massive, I had fought my mind, the destructive voices that had been out there by someone else, telling me over 7 months that I had no place, in the sport, in any role but anywhere else either. A summer that saw me almost quit life, I am forever grateful that someone reached in and saved me, and with a few others held on whilst I let go. They also convinced me that the sport I fought constantly to be part of might actually help save me. And it’s certainly why Dunster will always hold a very special place in my heart, as I sat there with 3 important ladies watching those longbows fling sticks and calm my brain.

Indoor 22/23 – C class! Amazing, and I had barely been able to shoot as I had put dad before everything, that little piece of bling felt special, I could hear his belief in me, he never gave up on me.

outdoor 2023 – new classifications, I had been part of the working group and had to listen to so many people complain 🫣

I wasn’t really sure what I was aiming for and decided to use the new and old tables together so I could reference something I did understand! Bowman 3rd class under the new which I felt was poor but wasn’t sure why, under the old system I had dropped back to C, devastated – dropped was the right phrase since I spent most of 2023 gradually lose the feeling in my hand, dropping everything, and either numb or in agony! Again changes and what to do for the best whilst waiting for hospital appointments!

indoor 23/24 – again new classifications so the decision to use old and new – bowman 3rd class old system C class! I am happy with this and it’s helped me accept summer 2023.

I started the indoor season with a PB in the Stafford and finished it with PB in Portsmouth and earned medals along with the Portsmouth 550 badge!

Here I sit, having planned numerous outdoor competitions for 2024 and we will see what my new way of shooting brings, will I get something decent! I am again going to use both new and old systems and this year I can also play on the 50+ class which will certainly help in the high pain days but I am going to enjoy it, that is what is important, can I keep smiling! If I can I get to stay in October, if it brings more tears than smiles then this will be my last season shooting.

Let’s see what happens – I am looking forward to the challenge.

It has all reminded me of conversations that I wasn’t good enough, and what was the point of my goals, they weren’t good enough either!

Well what I do know is this, the goals you set for yourself are the ones that matter, how you feel about your achievements is what matters! If you have a coach, and they tell you that your goal – to be the very best that you can be, isn’t good enough, then I would suggest that you need a different coach 🤗

Whatever your goals for the coming summer, I wish you the best, may your arrows fly strong ❤️🏹

Thank you to those who have stood by me, and helped me with each challenge that I have faced 🥰 you are all awesome and I have never taken any of you for granted.