Founding Member and Dedicated Volunteer Retires
SportsAble’s longest serving Trustee, Jot Story, announced her retirement at this year’s Annual General meeting, after volunteering at the charity since its inaugural meeting in 1975. Jot leaves behind a legacy of commitment, volunteering and epic fundraising achievements!
Asked what she thought was SportsAble’s proudest achievement, Jot says, “The charity has succeeded in putting disability on the map at a time when disabled people were shunted into the background and told they weren’t able to do anything. The charity has been fundamental in providing opportunities for disabled people to achieve things they never thought possible through sport, including helping other people too.”
It was Jot’s mum who first ignited her passion for creating opportunities for disabled people to be active, when she helped to found Woodlarks: a Girl Guide’s camping holiday for disabled girls. During her time working here, Jot witnessed how able disabled people were when given the opportunity.
Jot’s experience of disability continued when one of her friends suffered a terrible horse-riding accident and was admitted Stoke Mandeville Hospital. Luckily Jot was attending a college nearby so regularly cycled to see her friend in hospital while she underwent a lengthy rehabilitation. During this time, Jot became a regular attendee at the International Disability Games that were started by Sir Ludwig Guttman at Stoke Mandeville and evolved into today’s Paralympic movement.
Despite athletes travelling from around the world to take part in the Games, there was absolutely no media coverage about the event. Incensed by the unfairness, Jot would deliberately call The Times and ask them what the Wheelchair Basketball score was, to which journalists would reply that they didn’t know because no-one was interested. This didn’t deter Jot, and she phoned again during the week, even though the reply was always the same.
Apart from the annual Games at Stoke Mandeville there was nothing else for disabled people to get involved so Jot’s involvement in disability sport stopped. It was only by chance, when she spotted a poster at her son’s diving club, that she heard about the formation of a Slough sports group for disabled people.
Jot went to the meeting of this group, which called itself SADSAD (Slough and Districts Association for the Disabled) and was immediately asked to join the committee. However, as soon as one organisers realised Jot was from Maidenhead, they asked her to attend the inaugural WAMDSAD (Windsor and Maidenhead district Association for the Disabled) which took place at Maidenhead Town Hall.
Despite having no premises of their own, WAMDSAD organised Table Tennis at Home Park, Windsor, before moving to Boyn Hill Cricket Club and High Town Road. It also ran swimming lessons at Maidenhead’s leisure centre. Jot was involved in both sections, playing in the Table Tennis league and volunteering in the swimming sessions.
As the demand for sports grew, WAMDSAD decided to raise money to build its own premises by undertaking a mammoth sponsored wheelchair push to Brighton – in fancy dress! Jot’s husband, Jeremy, suggested that the push was local so that it would raise money and awareness of the Club. The annual Wheelchair Push lasted for 30 years and was a huge fundraising success, enabling the charity to raise enough money to build their premises at Braywick Park.
Today SportsAble continues to operate out of these premises and now runs 13 different sports every week, making it a unique, multi-sports, multi-disability club in the area.
So, what is next for Jot?
“I will still be involved in fundraising for the charity, but it is time for some younger people to get involved,” explains Jot. “Charity work has transformed since I first started and today it is necessary to operate more like a business to survive. I want to step down and encourage younger people to get involved. As well as giving to a very worthwhile charity, you get a lot back, including friendship and lots of laughter.”
On behalf of everyone at SportsAble, we would like to say a big THANK YOU to Jot and to acknowledge what an incredible contribution she has made to the success and sustainability of the charity of the years.