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An hour of my life I will never forget....

Every now and then, we experience something or meet someone quite remarkable.


Last week was a little challenging. It was a rainy, windy half term and we were limited to what we could do, with my eldest daughter nursing a broken collarbone and me being a wheelchair user, as well as the age gap of my girls to take into account too. That said, we have become experts at finding things we can all do, by keeping an open mind and exploring different options, but I must say last week was more difficult than usual.


However, we had a poignant hour that was better than any day out anywhere. I know my girls gained more than any of the activities they have ever done or any lesson at school.


My eldest daughter's friend has a younger sister who is blind. We were fortunate enough to meet the family and spend an afternoon with them last week, and since then there hasn't been much else on my mind.


She is nine years old and as she walked into my house you can't see that she is blind, unlike my disability - the wheelchair stands out where ever I go . What you see is a happy nine year old entering a house she has never been in before, just guided by the noise of the other girls . Not long after meeting my youngest daughter, they were holding hands and disappearing to the bedroom to play schools. Next they were swinging on the gymnastic bar, the four girls laughing and chatting whilst they spun upside down. It is hard to imagine being completely blind and I was just amazed by what she can do. My eldest daughter was lucky enough to go with the family swimming two days before. She described how the confident young girl jumped in the water and was swimming beautifully.


My girls were shown how to braille their names, on a brailler. She brought her 'braille typewriter' with her, which has a key corresponding to each of the six dots of the braille code, a space key, a backspace key and a linespace key. I can see the paper with Chloe and Maisie's name on meant a lot to them- I clearly wasn't the only one taken back by this lovely girl.




Whilst they were playing, I had the privilege of chatting to her mum, who does an incredible job- helping her but allowing her enough freedom too. I would think it would be easy to feel very protective and look out for danger all the time but this little girl has plenty of confidence- it is some of the best team work I have ever seen.


When I went down to Chloe's bedroom to make sure all was ok, I explained I was off handcycling soon and how I have to do things a little different to others because my legs don't work. She had never met anyone in a wheelchair, and I am sure the noise of me coming along the tiled floor must have been weird for her!


Listening to what she is able to do and then imagining doing these without sight is mind blowing- from swimming to climbing to gymnastics.... I am in awe.

She is polite, confident, active, intelligent... I am sure the list could go on and I have no doubt she will thrive despite the extra challenges she faces.


So what has been a quiet half term for my girls has turned out to be one of the best lessons they could have had. The biggest thing that will hold you back in life is your mind. Although I have had my fair share of struggles and met many exceptional people along the way... this little girl has made a lasting impression.


However it's far more than that. When you are disabled- you are different to most people- my youngest daughter asked me a lot of questions before she met the family, questions I couldn't answer. It made me realise how little I knew about blindness and in the hour I spent with the family, I learnt so much.


But ultimately and most importantly, they loved being with her, not because she is blind because her disability doesn't define her- you would soon forget she can't see because her personality is way bigger than her disability.






So now when I am asked who inspires me..... which is a common question during the Q&A session after a presentation, I have an incredible girl to add to my list.





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