Welcome to the SportsAble Blog – an exciting new blog containing stories and opinions on disability sport. Members, Patrons, Trustees and Staff will all be contributing over the forthcoming months so stay tuned for uplifting stories, thought-provoking articles and ways in which you can get involved.
Our second entry is from SportsAble’s CEO, Kerl Haslam, who talks about the loss of a very special person, Nick Gibbs, who died of cancer aged 62 on January 2nd.
It’s mixed emotions here at SportsAble HQ. We started 2018 off with great news: that our kayaking programme is to be funded for a further three years thanks to the Sobell Foundation.
At £7,000 per annum that means that more disabled people can gain access to watersports and the exercise, and overall enjoyment that comes with getting out on the river with experienced coaches, adapted equipment and SportsAble friends. Our watersports progamme adds such enrichment to the lives of our members who take part and we are thrilled for it to be able to continue for years to come. Thank you to the Sobell Foundation.
We have also been gifted an incredible £4,000 by our friends and long-term supporters the Windsor Lions. Their generosity will enable so many of our members to continue to experience disability sport and the community that comes with it. Thank you to all the Lions and to the people who continue to support and donate through this fantastic organisation.
But our positive news is tinged with sadness as we lost a dear friend and colleague on January 2nd.
Known to just about everyone within our charity, our former Sports Manager, head of our New Age Kurling section, Wheelchair Basketball Coach, Table Tennis team mate and Sunday Funday organiser Nick Gibbs passed away after a short battle with kidney cancer. It has shaken us all, from our board of trustees through to members and beyond the charity to all the organisations Nick worked with to create alliances and to educate people about disability sports.
Inspirational organisations are built by incredible people and long before many of us joined this wonderful charity there were people like Nick Gibbs working hard – and volunteering even harder – to ensure that the disabled people in Berkshire received regular access to and regular enjoyment from a plethora of fun and serious para sports.
There isn’t an area of this charity that hasn’t been influenced and greatly shaped by Nick’s ingenuity and hard work. He was a lover of paperwork and did the hard jobs of planning and strategising and recording. Facts and figures in black and white turn into something colourful when orchestrated by the right person. Nick was that person. From the Target Hexathlons to the Table Tennis Grand Prix he laid the foundations for so many events and competitions and opportunities that have done and will continue to engage and inspire so many disabled people to live life to the full. His superbly organised events gave our members something to look forward to throughout the year and he helped to build the community that is SportsAble today. Everyone has a home here. Everyone is welcome and at times like this SportsAble is a very special place for people to gather and seek comfort.
We are a little lost without him, I won’t lie, and we will take some time to recover. Our sincerest thoughts are with his family.
Looking forward to the rest of year is what we inevitably have to do but we will never forget Nick and all that he did for us. He was a humble, ‘behind the scenes’ person who did so much for us all. We hope that we continue to make him proud.
One thing Nick would be proud of is the launch of our Membership Bursary. This is where members can personally write to me and ask for help with paying their membership.
Fees have to increase by a £25 this year to allow us to remain operating at our current level: £75 for sports members; £38 for social members and £169.50 for families.
However, we never want money to be a barrier to disabled people participating in sport and our Bursary application is open to all disabled members.
And this is where you, our loyal supporters come in.
How about starting 2018 by making a difference to disabled people‘s lives? A donation of £750 will guarantee that ten people will benefit from life changing opportunities.
To support our members, or to find out about all of our other rewarding sponsorship opportunities, speak to: firstname.lastname@example.org