Caroline's time to shine (again!)
Some of you may already have heard about Caroline, who writes a blog called Iaintnotomato, and her work promoting inclusive cycling. For those that don't, Caroline is a forty-something single mum with an acquired brain injury who took up cycling after becoming involved in CTC's All-ability Cycling project in Sheffield a few years ago. She is now Chair of the Sheffield Cycling 4 All project, which runs open inclusive cycling sessions in the city's Hillsborough Park every Thursday. She is also involved with the Sheffield Community Brain Injury Rehabilitation Team and an organisation called Move More. In short, she's a busy woman!
However, following the Disability Sport awards dinner, I asked Caroline if she could find time to write a few words about her experience, and how she came about to be nominated. Here's what she had to say:
"I have known Liz Howard for as long as I've cycled. She was the manager of a social work team that I was involved in helping to deliver individual budget training with. But more importantly, she is one of my best friends! That team were impressed with how creatively I used my budget to save money and to promote cycling. This was thanks to being able to pick up my own children from school everyday using my tricycle, as opposed to paying a Personal Assistant to do it. At the same time, I was keeping fit and well, reducing my visits to the doctor, from about 12 times a year, to never over the course of two years!!
It has now become my mission to help folk with disabilities to realise their own potential and take a bit more control back."
Disability Sport award winner
Liz visited Sheffield Cycling 4 All (SC4A), with four other members of the team, one of whom is in a wheelchair, for a team-building 'jolly' and a picnic of strawberries and cream and non-alcoholic champagne, with plastic flutes to drink from. We had such a great day, with Steve Marsden, and the other cycle trainers. I know all the social work team will have gone back to the office and raved about Sheffield Cycling 4 All.
They loved the fact that with the help of my friends from the CTC, I'd managed to take my children on their first holiday as a single mum to the CTC York Cycle Show. It has now become my mission to help folk with disabilities to realise their own potential and take a bit more control back.
Gavin Wood first made me aware of the competition and it was Liz who wanted to nominate me for a Service to Sport Award because we wanted something good to come out of this year and my struggle to get back in the saddle following a broken leg. This year has been so hard for me, and I can honestly say it has been my love for SC4A that has got a bit of normality back to my life.
You can tell I'm passionate about it. This is how, Liz ended her nomination:
"Earlier this year, Caroline had the misfortune of breaking the tibia and fibula in her left leg. She had a fixator in place for 5 months but did not let this stop her, and even before she was back on two legs, she was promoting inclusive cycling and showing people that anything is possible by cycling using a handtrike. Encouraging others means so much to Caroline as she wants everyone to experience the pleasure and freedom that cycling brings. I believe that Caroline is the perfect nominee for a Service to Sport Award as she does what she does all for the love of people."
The guest speakers on the night included Daniella Brown MBE, who achieved Paralympic glory in archery, and Kevan Baker OBE, who is a wheelchair discus athlete. I thought we'd got it all wrong to be honest, these were 'proper' sports people, not like me!!
When they said: "The next prize goes to a 47-year-old single mum", Liz and I nudged each other, and smiled but we never thought in a billion years he would go on to say, "who has a long-standing disability, and actually swapped her electric mobility scooter for a recumbent trike". Well that was it!!! I was on my feet and crying. I'm such a wuss!!"
So that's it! Caroline can now add to her list of many achievements that she is now the proud winner of a Service to Sport Award, and in five years she has gone from novice cyclist to Olympic torch bearer to award-winner.
Gavin Wood, CTC Inclusive Cycling Officer (North-East)
To find out more about CTC's involvement in inclusive cycling in the North-East, please contact Gavin Wood on 07825 785490, or for information about the Sheffield Cycling 4 All project please contact Emily Morton at Disability Sheffield on 0114 253 6750.