the best days are sharing in others’ successes

I have said for many many years that success is so much more than medals, celebratory moments in sport are about so many things. I can list many examples that I have been privileged to be a part of in the last 7 years.

Today was no different, I love my hour every month with DISC, helping deliver multiple sports and activities to amazing children and their families.

Today there was a boy who I have seen often for over a year, close to 18 months, he struggles to retain the information, communication isn’t always simple and he looses concentration, he is anxious about his mum leaving and looks for reassurance that she’s stayed. He walked in and I always allow him to show me what he can remember, today he picked up his bow and an arrow and completed the shot routine and hit a blue immediately, his mum was stunned and as I handed him a second arrow, he turned to tell her she didn’t need to watch she could chat outside the door with other adults if she wished and just got on with it. Proud? Oh yes, and in these moments, the very hardest thing is not to react, just carry on, when in fact I want to dance and hug and celebrate.

There were lots of other amazing moments, as always, children who still come to see me despite me progressing them to local clubs, for example a young man I met almost a year ago, introduced him to a club, yesterday he was at county coaching, this morning he was competing and this evening he went to his club session, but he still makes time to come and say hello, shoot a few soft arrows and some days helps me to deliver. Or the young girl who having watched her sister shooting, sat on the floor with Rose so that she could leave her walking frame to shoot.

I am proud of these children, but it makes me proud of my children and anyone who helps me deliver any kind of sessions, every person is treated as an individual and my priority, always is enjoyment and smiles. Success is different for different people.

Today I also met a young man who has long been an Archery GB member but isn’t currently shooting, despite an incredibly strong family link with our sport, because his club no longer fits his needs. After a chat, I was able to make the introductions to a club that I believe will welcome him and meet his needs and early indications are correct.

I finished the day nipping in to see some who always has hugs for me, just a quick catch up as I knew they had competed today but when I met them at the end of 2022 they were crying as they believed that their only option was to leave our sport as the disability had progressed and they had been made to believe there was no place for them here. Time, patience, laughter and tears have proven that is not the case, adaption and work and here they are, today bringing home a shiny bronze medal 🥳❤️🏹

I know what it is to be told there is no place for you, I know the damage that can do. I will fight for anyone’s right to be active and take part, always.

It has been one of the days that motivates me, shows me I can play a part. Motivation in the bank for the days when I am told to walk away and leave 🤗

week 85! Crikey where is time going!

Some. normalcy is returning slowly to the house. But it’s going to be months before things really settle. Don’t be offended if I don’t take your call or make you wait, I have made it clear that I am here, I am providing what I always do but that right now, me and the children are absolutely first.

what does that mean? I work full time and I am a mum. I have given 25-30 hours a week to other people’s archery for around 7 years, all voluntary. I am currently giving 15 – 20 hours a week, that’s no small amount.

This week has been meetings and calls regarding existing projects and some new ones for 2024. Calls with people I support and plans for archers, projects and coaches.

Not much time to pick up my own bow as home and work have demanded time that I rightly give. I am definitely blessed to have Jack when I come home to chat with 🤗 I am enjoying the brief time at the top of my division in the virtual archery league. I am fairly sure I have predicted the outcome but we’ll see if I am right in the next couple of months 🙃

I am looking forward to Sunday afternoon with DISC, always a great session and I really did miss last month’s, though the cancellation was for very good reason, I always come away inspired and motivated.

Right I am being shouted for my lunch before going to work, 25 hours on house and I have promised Jack some time to chill tomorrow evening so anything coming in will likely be answered Thursday.

Have a good week ❤️🏹

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 ❤️🏹

Week 83 – thank you for the support

Firstly a big thanks to the coaches who help me deliver sessions as they have quietly got on with it and made sure much of what is arranged has been delivered, some calls, cuppas and emails at random times – though working with me is a lot like that anyhow 😜😂🫣😋

Thank you too for those who have supported us taking care of Paul, it’s slow but he seems to be gradually improving 🤞🏻

Saturday was weird having electricity put into me hand and elbow, a list of things it isn’t but the news that it likely means whatever it is isn’t fixable. A discussion around the wrist brace with my beloved logic used against me which means it will be staying 🤨 but the very good news that I can continue shooting, obviously the changes will need to continue since the brace is staying 🤷‍♀️ but almost immediately my amazing shooting buddy pinged to arrange range time and a couple of quick messages mean I have a local range in case I need to get home quickly. So many amazing people in our sport – I am blessed to count many as friends.

Teams meetings at odd hours arranged for this coming week and things to do for ongoing and new projects.

Humbled to see a shout out from Sporting Equals at the weekend, always amazing to be recognised for my efforts and the work that Integr8archery CIC, but when it’s from outside the archery community it blows me away.

Take care and see you on a range soon, definitely glad I got my January Portsmouth in early for the virtual archery league otherwise I wouldn’t have managed to fit one in!

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 🥰

week 82 – mostly dictated by the welfare of others

without a doubt this last week has been intense for a number of reasons, the day job saw me become part of a team working in a temporary emergency setting to keep a young person safe, along side those of us working with them. We pulled it off through a great example of what a team of like minded individuals can do, not down playing the efforts of this who stayed in our usual setting to work with the Luther young people in our care, they had to manage without us.

Glad to say the week is ended well with everyone safe and well and as we are so often reminded, the aim of every shift is for us to return home safe.

Saturday was interesting as I was utterly exhausted and I am grateful that Chris and Jack managed to understand my exhausted mind when it often retrieved the wrong words mid sentence 🫣 luckily they often rhymed with the word I actually wanted so that helped 😂

Sunday I woke with the still hovering migraine so decided to withdraw from the competition but due to Paul’s ongoing health concerns I took Rose for the day, I don’t often get to be an archery mum, so it was lovely to do just that. I am so proud of her, with everything she has going on at the moment she wanted to just relax and enjoy herself. She came away with a new PB, two golds and a silver 🥰🏹

Thank you to everyone for their support and care during the day but especially to Anita who absolutely spent the day taking care of me in the very best way – filling it with as much laughter as possible 🤗😜 Great as always to catch up with everyone and thank you to Duncan for looking after raffle tickets, medal collecting and picking up forgotten items when we had to dash off to get Paul to a&e.

Huge apologies to DISC for having to cancel, I love spending time with this group they are amazing and I did miss them, look forward to dropping in soon for sure.

This week is going to be hard as we help Paul recover and Jack is proving to be great at caring for him but I am rightfully supporting them and that does mean you are going to have to be patient and bear with me. Messages will be answered as and when, if it helps to put it all into perspective I have had to take some leave from the paid job too, and for those trying to get things from Paul, Jack and Rose, with my support are keeping as many of you away as possible, he can’t concentrate on you whilst he heals – sorry but there it is.

So, hopefully the next week will see some return to normal but the hospital appointments for me, Rose and Jack continue to land on the doormat so they will take priority 🤗

See you on the range soon ❤️🏹 stay safe and well

week 81 so looking forward to arrows this weekend ❤️🏹

It’s been an intense couple of weeks at work, as can be anticipated when working with young people with trauma, and at the moment we are needing to give time for extra shifts as one has had to be moved into a temporary setting whilst we secure a new placement for them, which means we are covering two properties not one, hard work and extra shifts, which means little to no shooting!

I am pleased I have arrows booked Friday night and some things over the weekend as it will help stop me giving up time when I do need to rest.

I am competing Sunday, I wasn’t going to enter this particular competition as I simple haven’t had chance to really practise with the bow and release aid change and there are still adjustments to be made, but when I saw there were a couple of spaces I decided it was just what my head space needed.

I shoot only against myself I wish everyone else well but I don’t compare what I am doing with anyone, ever, because I am not interested in comparison – we are individuals and have different paths.

My indoor season had been going well and I was seeing improvement so I have decided to shoot in the 50+ category for fun. I can then focus back on the senior category when I feel more settled with the changes, this is the advantage to having that big birthday at the end of 2024, I can use the two categories for different things – I like that freedom and I think it will serve me well.

It’s going to be a busy Sunday, competition followed by delivery to one of my favourite groups – DISC at Towcester, such a great group to spend time with, two years on that has never changed.

This week has been about squeezing in meetings and answering emails between shifts and trying to sleep at least a little bit. Northamptonshire Federation for Disability Sports, existing schools, a couple of new youth groups and catching up with some of the coaches who work with me.

Thank you for the patience you have all shown, I was reminded that when I talk of delays in responding I am still responding within 36 hours – it’s just my normal is within 2 hours! I have to learn to be kinder to myself, but hey one step at a time, look at the work I have been doing on my mental well-being in the last 2 years 😋🤔🙃

See you all soon, looking forward to Sunday especially ❤️🏹

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 🥰

week 80 – plans/decisions and what might 2024 bring?

Well the plans suggest that most of my arrows for January will be shot at home 🫣 not terrible but not ideal 🤷‍♀️

Trying to resolve kit issues for several projects, fingers crossed there. Finalising plans risk assessments for new projects, looking at coach availability for different groups and deciding who will work best where? I love this bit because when I get it right the relationships that form allow the archery to flourish.

Looking at where to step back, and trimming some things, part of a slow, long term process but incredibly important for the future.

Red January is going well considering the amount of time I have spent at work, so I am happy there.

lots of reading for NFDS and what we might do with the constitution ready for next week’s meeting.

plans around competitions for indoors and outdoors and of course Dunster in the summer, along with volunteering in and out of archery.

Time with my warhammer and very much looking forward to this week’s booked painting lesson – exciting 😊

So, you won’t have seen much of me but I am busy working away. Catch up with you soon ❤️🏹

Week 79 + 2 days 🫣🤨😋

End of week blog is late? Yes, yes it is. 2024 will see me relax a little a little about some of my commitments. I will do an end of week blog, these are important to me and I know some enjoy reading them, when I want to there will be a mid week blog. I will not stress and push myself for dates and times to do things that timings are not crucial for. I work full time on shifts and sometimes, for a variety of reasons find myself picking up extra shifts or having to stay late. These are important, my welfare, my family’s and the young people I work with, if I blog drops a little late, the world will continue to turn.

Yesterday was the first anniversary of dad’s death, I took the day for me and I am blessed that my children stepped in to care for me and spend time with me, resulting in good head space and much laughter.

I have been asked what my resolutions are for 2024, I don’t make resolutions. I have looked at the continued progress of looking after myself and how I can best achieve that. Lots of hospital appointments coming up in the next few weeks, answers will hopefully help, I have long since held the opinion that knowledge is power, knowing the answers gives me the power to look after myself. I have signed up to red January thanks to my activity partnership reminding me! Who better to get you moving? I have also started my jar of thanks – every day for a year you write down something that you are thankful for and drop it in there, it fits well with the work that I do from my therapy too.

Finding hope or good in every day may help with my PTSD and anxiety, anything that might reduce the daily fear and urge to flee can only be a benefit, I’ll let you know how it goes. Building on the work I have done is part of looking after me and that gives me the strength to do what I do for everyone else.

I have a lot of meetings and calls booked in for January and these cover a range of existing projects and exciting new opportunities, I will update you on these as they become relevant.

I have plotted out competitions for both indoor and outdoor seasons and put my name down for a whole bunch of volunteering.

I hope the return to normal after the holiday season hasn’t hit you too hard? See you all soon on the range somewhere.

For now I am off back to building my models with the supervision of Jack who recalled a conversation from 3 years ago and got me my first warhammer set. He’s not wrong, good for my head and almost physio for the fine motor skills with the issues I am having with grip, clever man, my son. It’s never surprised me how many archers enjoy warhammer and some of them have been great to chat with this week too, thank you.