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 🥳

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 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.


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.

week 92 – sharing the sport – radio!

Well it’s been a busy week, hospital appointments- things cleared off the list but new things added and so more people getting involved, my girlie will get there eventually but she’s amazing and her bow brings her peace whilst everything is still in the air. So proud of her 🤗

Meetings, lots of them!

Afternoon with the guides who are prepping to host their first start archery event in May and wanted some advice and help with kit maintenance and preparation, and hot cross buns enjoyed all round since it was Easter weekend!

Although it was technically in the next week, BBC radio Northampton asked if I would like to join them on the breakfast show on 3/4/24 for a chat on air. This was a great chance to speak about how accessible our sport is, a follow up to my previous chat on 10/1/23 and following the look east tv crew spending a morning with myself and Deb a month ago. The TV session had been as a result of Nick Wilson and a conversation he had with the BBC around accessible activity and sports. Ultimately they didn’t use archery in the tv airing but many thanks to Deb for the time she gave not only shooting under intense pressure but the interview she gave. The good news is that from the radio piece I have had a number of people make contact so it was worth the early studio time.


go to 3/4/24 at 7:47 and you can hear me 🙃

This weekend is my work weekend Friday until Monday I will be mostly unavailable so apologies upfront for any delays in replies.

Have a good weekend, they claim it’s going to be a warm one.

power in joining forces – collaboration is powerful

On Thursday I attended the Together Fund celebration evening hosted by Northamptonshire Sports, due to illness I was asked if I could step in last minute to speak in place of another person. As I listened to Chris, then Matthew and other speakers before me I remembered that other life we all lived, that one before Covid! Do you remember it? Sometimes it’s like reading a book when I think back.

I was a mum, an archer, an enforcement officer. I was a regional safeguarding officer with a passion for my sport and the things I could see it achieve. I had taken that passion and the work I had already started in a number of areas to apply for and become an Ambassador for Archery GB, growing my projects and reaching wider and further than I had before.

I had linked with other like minded people and organisations from within and outside of my sport. I had started to get involved in some multisports meetings hosted by a couple of activity partnerships but particularly Northamptonshire Sports.

Then the news that we were facing a global pandemic, and lockdown was looming. The news that we all had to stay home and in bubbles.

The different areas of my life clashed, enforcing covid restrictions whilst trying to get people active. Working with the NGB to help, particularly when the initial guidelines prevented some individuals returning to our sport. Joining lots of multisports meetings to discuss our individual and joint issues, trying to find solutions. During one of these meetings I was listening to someone who is a good friend, who I actually consider family, as he described the issues in their sport – swimming and realised that I had a solution! But without Northamptonshire Sports we would never have had that conversation 🫣

Post covid I continued to work on my projects, building on the collaborations from before as well as new ones made during those many many online meetings.

For a variety of reasons, in 2022, I resigned as AGB Ambassador, created Integr8archery CIC and evaluated my work, reclaiming what was mine and stepping away from some things that I had put many valuable hours into but were not mine.

This allowed me to protect my work, the people involved and continue with only those who really wanted the best for those that I work with. Schools projects, disadvantaged youth, supoort groups, disability groups, archers wanting to return to the sport, archers whose health had changed and wanted support to face change to stay. Lots and lots of people from these and other groups/clubs I worked with.

I continued to attend meetings hosted by lots of groups/organisations from Sport England, Activity Partnerships, Children’s Coaching Collaborative, Belong. Sporting Equals ….. At the same time continuing to volunteer in other sports/activties as I recalled those conversations that we all need workforce to get and keep people active.

As a result I was often in the same place at the same time as Northamptonshire Sports and the amazing army of red shirts. I took a call about a local group wanting archery and the together fund being a possible source to help us provide sessions for them. So began the connection between Northamptonshire Sports, Integr8archery CIC and Wellingborough Muslim Community group.

Thursday night was a fantastic opportunity to see what we have all achieved across the county in the last 4-5 years, coming together, creating opportunities and collaborating to get and keep people active, from a wide range of areas within the community and such a vast range of activities.

Also a chance to discuss next steps, areas to improve our reach and possibilities as there are still so many to reach. I came away with a number of new contacts made and discussions started to reach new groups, and also some individuals who want putting in touch or introducing to clubs.

I am looking forward to what comes of this but also firmly stand by my believe that whilst we all focus on our sport I think we can achieve most by coming together with others to achieve more for those we want to reach.

week 84 (+ 2 days 🙃) what do you do with your medals?

I remember talking to my son after completing my beginners course and saying that summer I would do 2 competitions that were club only, put on more for social reasons that serious competition and it would give me several months to practise. He and my daughter love competitions and most Sundays saw us sat somewhere watching them shoot. He calmly replied that I had been entered for a great competition they had chosen for me in March – 5 weeks away!

What I had planned to be 2 gentle competitions late summer, became constant Sunday peace on the line. Never have I competed to beat anyone else – 6 years on and all I ever do is compare me to me.

That first summer saw me receive an invitation to shoot for the county, I recall the anxiety of walking onto the field for that first county competition, that was soon taken care of, never have I had a warmer welcome than that morning and many of those people are some of the most supportive, amazing friends in my life – family for sure. I have been blessed to earn a county year bar every year from 2018 – 2023, time will tell if the work I am doing to continue shooting will see me earn one for 2024? Certainly having the county captain as a shooting buddy has helped me stay when I might have quit the sport entirely.

I have earned lots of medals in my 6 years of shooting, there have been a range of achievements and on a few occasions I’ve been given a medal when there was only me in my category. I remember the first time that happened and wondering if it was at all meaningful? I was told that it represented the many hours of shooting I had put in before the competition, the hard days, the painful days, the days when I might not have picked up my bow but didn’t give up. So those few medals do actually carry meaning for me, helped by the fact that I have always kept a shooting diary and so I can see what went into the build up for each.

Flight has seen me earn national medals, 4 golds in 2021 and 2 golds, a silver and a bronze in 2022. 2023 saw circumstances keep me away from the competitions but hopefully this will not be the case in 2024, I love flight 🏹

Anyone who knows me knows that whilst I will always celebrate with you, I measure achievements in much more than medals. From a child who was being excluded from class daily who excelled when picking up a bow with us and gradually took that discipline into class and 8 months later their teacher emailed me to say they had just completed a month of being in class all day every day! A child who had become stuck in the house for many many months due to mental health issues created in lockdown, who gradually, steadily took the time to build up the courage to join me in our pjs to stand on the range!

In order to celebrate achievements I created the progress awards for those who are learning on a slower path than a traditional club environment may provide. I have celebrated with cake, hot chocolate, stickers, laughter …… many things. Occasionally I see something special that gives a reason to do something a little different. With this in mind I sometimes give away my medals, I explain what it is, how I came to have it, the effort it took not just on the day I received it. 2 of those have been a national gold medal.

In 2021 I had the pleasure of meeting an amazing young man, quiet, intelligent and awesome. Initially anxious, gradually settling, week after week feeling more comfortable. Some times we would share some lemon cake, a great ice breaker and I often believe it’s easier to be brave with food or drink in our hands, like a safety blanket. In May 2022 I had seen him flourish and again felt the privilege of someone who had trusted me. I gave him a gold medal, explained what it was and told him he deserved this for the efforts he had made, week after week, to walk in and gradually grow more comfort when social anxiety was very clearly a massive issue.

The other one? A special young man, who watched his grandfather, his best friend, battle cancer but ultimately loose that fight. In those early weeks of grieiving this young man had to travel across the world to spend time with family, many who he had either never met or only chatted with over FaceTime. Coming together because there was another significant loss in our family. In a strange country, surrounded by grief whilst dealing with loosing his grandfather he was brave enough to let us all in, and to let me take him almost 2 hours away to walk him onto a range and spend some time shooting arrows, a strange new sport, in a strange country with strangers. Since February 2023 that medal has lived across the Atlantic with a brave young man 🥰

So what do you do with your medals? I have photos of all of them and my diaries to tell me what and when I earned them so most are in a box that I put them in, but some of my medals are out there with others, including those 2 medals, doing a little bit of extra work ❤️🏹

6 year anniversary of my beginners course 🤔

6 years ago today I completed my beginners course!
I have spent the day thinking about what that 6 years have contained! Wondering what might have been if I hadn’t picked up a bow.

I had been volunteering my time before that as everyone else in the house were already shooting but without a doubt I would never have given so much of my time had I not become an archer. I loved the sport for what it was giving my children but I had not experienced what I would gain.

I had friends in the county but I didn’t have the bonds and some amazing friendships that grew from pulling on a county shirt and being part of the squad, supporting each other in the most amazing ways.

I certainly wouldn’t have travelled the path that led to my creating Integr8archery CIC and the projects I have now or those in the years before. It has been a privilege to work with those I have met through the projects.

There are a list of downsides too, I won’t go into those, for a variety of reasons, but again, some of those have brought fantastic people into my life.

It was all of these things whizzing around my head as I sat waiting at the hospital for my appointment today, the first of 2 appointments in 6 days – the good news is I have been given permission to continue shooting if I would like to, so crack on with learning my new routine it is then!

It’s rare I ask for anything, despite how much I give, so as I walked back into the house to mull over the conversation at the hospital I was surprised to find messages, messages which frankly I think are selfish and demanding attention when I have explained that right now, there are things happening that require my attention. Likely not helped by the fact that the wording was triggering for me, initially I was not going to reply but I do not wish to trigger anyone else’s anxiety by making them wait. The subsequent response just reinforced my initial feelings that the sender was selfish and demanding with no interest in me.

So, I emphasise – right now I will give what I can, but this is not my priority, my health and that of my children is and I may just start not replying to rude or triggering messages.

I do wish to thank those who have sent kind and/or supportive messages too, particularly in reference to helping the children look after Paul, WOAC – as expected, have been amazing – thank you 🥰

midweek – readjustment of priorities, hours reduced but aims the same

Over the coming weeks and months the three of us are going to be attending a whole bunch of medical appointments. 

Happy to share my issues, as I already have been, particularly as it impacts my ability to shoot and the necessity for changes to allow me to continue and I know there are those who like to see what is happening. 

The issues of my children are not up for public discussion. 

They get involved with Integr8Archery CIC often and help in delivery of a variety of things.

With this in mind, the amount that we will be doing this year will reduce to allow time to concentrate on the many health related things going on. 

Existing projects and new projects and lots of exciting things will be happening but there will be some careful selection processes as we utilise our energy on less hours. 

You will see us on ranges shooting, competing, delivering and supporting but be prepared that you may some times hear a polite but firm refusal to be involved in something. 

There are also some things that are important to us as topics such as anti violence and providing alternative options, these will continue to be important to us and you will see us continue to work in these areas.

I make no apology for putting us first. 

See you all soon and I will continue to let you know what is happening with projects 🥰🏹

An old photo but one of my favourites 🥰

New Year = New Challenges? What will you do in 2024 as we reflect on 2023?

It’s that time of year when we reflect on the year that’s coming to an end, most of us do it, only natural I guess. For me it’s just a blink of an eye from last New Year’s Eve. Walking in to see my parents and spend a couple days with them but realising that likely wouldn’t be the case. We had spent time over Christmas FaceTiming and laughing and those memories will always make what came next easier, it certainly gives me comfort to recall the laughter shared between dad and the children.

So my 2023 started with the end of dad’s life, 3 days when we were supported by an amazing team who we didn’t even know on New Year’s Eve.

We had spent 6 and a half months having big conversations, hard conversations and talking about little things- we knew what was going to happen and we prepared for it and I have had a year of his voice in my ear with the messages he left from those conversations.

2023 was going to be the year I tried to build on the recovery of my mental health after the horrific 2021/2022 and everything that it brought, but I would be doing it without my dad.

So, did I achieve it? In many ways, yes! My head is a calmer, stronger place but I also still have more work to do there, a lot more work. I am pleased I have the years of messages that contain the promises that were used to destroy me, they reassure me that my memories and recollections are right and my counsellor confirms that my reactions to everything that followed are reasonable and I am grateful that she’s always there when I need her.

2023 has allowed me to breathe and look at Integr8archery CIC with a more relaxed view. I am proud of what I achieve and grateful to those who help me. It’s also the positive of what came from that very dark period of my life and it’s something I shared in our weekly chats with dad, his love of listening to me talk of “my little business”. He was proud of those stats in the blog on the 26/12/22 and it makes me proud to have those 6 monthly reflections as I can hear him speak to me.

2022 and 2023 have taught me that I give so very much to my sport and that it’s ok to admit that it’s not always a good thing and with that in mind 2023 saw me start to build on some of the other things that I do and change the balance of where I use my time.

In 2023 – I gave a total of 1243 hours to volunteering, averaged that’s 23.9 hours a week. 2022 had that figure at just over 30 hours a week. So I have claimed a bit of time, not a lot, but those who know me well know that 7 hours a week for me is massive!

Of those hours 20.66 a week are for Integr8archery CIC – a total of 48 hours from that 1243 had nothing to do with archery at all!

I absolutely advocate volunteering and what you can get from giving to others, I really wouldn’t advocate giving the number of hours that I give!

Professional change came from a change in job but not to the one that I had been offered a year ago, in fact what I do hadn’t even been a thought a year ago! But I love it and I have been promoted, is it difficult some days, yes! Is it worth doing – absolutely and I cannot imagine what you might offer me as an alternative that I would consider doing! I mean I must love it to be going to an ice skating disco for over 8 hours this evening 🫣😬😱😂

My archery? I had hoped to get back to my 1000 arrows a week, stats show me I have averaged 525 arrows a week! Not what I had wanted but neither had I anticipated the time/balance of new work and family responsibilities or my ever deteriorating physical health. My shoulder has deteriorated, my back is definitely not happy 😬 but my hands, particularly my right hand, the deterioration there in 2023 has seen me loose the ability to grip at an accelerated rate this year, and the weird spasms in my thumb are frankly bizarre/frustrating and weird. Three hospital appointments in the next few weeks will hopefully move us to some answers! 🤞🏻

Of course the good news in my archery is the gift of new cams from the manufacturer for my bow which I now have back and the timing is that I can learn my new way of shooting with my very pretty bow in my hands. Thank you to Maggie, Bowtech and Martin.

These changes meant that the classification I had worked hard at for the outdoor season from starting in 2018 to summer 2022 slipped in 2023 – and yes, I measure the new classifications but also use the old because for comparison they have meaning that the new just don’t yet. Indoors I had finished 2022/2023 on my best ever indoor classification and though this season started way below, the work I am putting in is seeing that climb back up and maybe I might 🤞🏻 end the indoors where I was last year – and it will be fun to see where I settle on the new indoor classifications.

2024? work on my hand, work on my archery, and continue to work towards access to sport for all. It’s going to be interesting to see where it goes but at least I know I will see many of you as I go through the year – and that is by far the most important part of 2024 – I wish you good health, love and laughter 🥰🥂